Portugal v Iceland
Wednesday June 15, 5:00am
Iceland were one of the biggest stories to come out of the Euro qualifiers as the Nordic nation with a population of just over 300,000 upset the likes of the Netherlands to qualify for their first major tournament.
However, their form since guaranteeing their place here with a couple of games to go in qualification has been poor. They’ve won just three of their last 12 matches, with seven defeats. The good news is that they’ve at least scored in half of those games but unfortunately they’ve conceded 22 times in the process and the defence is a real weakness for this side.
Since 2011 Iceland have played 10 matches against teams ranked 5th-25th and they’ve been beaten eight times while only once conceding less than twice as their defence has been exposed time and time again. Eight of those matches had at least three goals while six had four or more and they do have some useful attackers so they’ll probably look to attack, and hope that really is the best form of defence in their case.
One man who will be looking forward to this match then will be Cristiano Ronaldo. After another prolific season for Real Madrid, Ronaldo will be looking to land an elusive first international title.
He only scored five times in qualifying but that included a hat-trick against Albania and his ability to score at will against minnows has been evidenced by his 36 hat-tricks in his Real Madrid career.
He can be backed at evens to score in this match and that is a crazy price. We’ll be backing that and also taking some of the 4.2 for Ronaldo to score first and a small punt on him netting a hat-trick at 23.0.
While Ronaldo might be scoring freely, and we’re happy to back him to carry that on here, Portugal have actually struggled in attack in recent years. Only twice in their 22 games heading into the tournament have they scored more than twice – one of those was of course the Ronaldo hat-trick – as their star player has often been isolated.
However, they are significantly better than Iceland and have won their last seven competitive matches against teams ranked outside our top 20. None of those wins was by more than a single goal margin but their only two previous meetings with Iceland, in 2010 and 2011, both resulted in wins by a couple of goals in 3-1 and 5-3 victories.
Moreover, we don’t think they’ll have any problems netting against this suspect Iceland defence and they’ve won eight of their last 10 matches against teams ranked 25th-70th while six of those games have had at least three goals.
There looks to be plenty of goals in this game and Over 2.5 Goals is a massive price at 2.45 given we think Ronaldo might cover that on his own. The match outcome trends also clearly point to Portugal being value for the win at 1.7 and while their lack of wins by more than one goal is a slight concern we can see them doing better than that here with the Asian Handicap line at -0.75 worth backing.
BACK – Ronaldo to Score Anytime 2.06