Poland v Portugal
Friday July 1, 5:00am
Switzerland and Croatia had the better of their respective Last 16 matches against Poland and Portugal but their opponents advanced in the competition. Poland needed penalties to edge past the Swiss after Xherdan Shaqiri’s late wonder strike cancelled out their first-half lead.
While Adam Nawalka’s side impressed in the first 30 minutes of the game they looked very tired after the break and, even more so, in extra-time.
Portugal were involved in a goalless 90 minutes but they went through courtesy of a Ricardo Quaresma’s tap-in as a second Saturday shootout loomed.
The prize here is a semi-final match against either Wales or the winner of Hungary and Belgium which is pretty much a dream draw given the comparative talent in the bottom-half which includes World Champions Germany, reigning European Champions Spain and the home favourites for the tournament France.
That Shaqiri goal is the only one that Poland have conceded this tournament. Their three group stage games had Under 1.5 Goals and all of their 10 Finals matches since 2008 have had Under 2.5 Goals. The 1-1 draw (after 90 minutes) against Switzerland extended Poland’s poor record against teams ranked 11-20 to W1-D6-L5 in their last 12 fixtures though.
Portugal have reached the quarter-finals without winning a match. They’ve tied all of their four games in the tournament (after 90 minutes) despite being the higher-ranked side, as they are here, each time. Their recent record against teams they are ranked 1-10 places higher than in all matches is a very encouraging W7-D2-L1.
The Iberians went out in the group stage of Brazil 2014 but that was the first Finals tournament that they’ve failed to reach the knockout stage at since 2002. They’ve played 11 knockout matches since Euro 2004 and an incredible eight of them, including the last four, have had Under 1.5 Goals while just three saw both teams net.
Since England 1996, there have been 22 knockout matches at the European Championships between teams separated by fewer than 10 ranking places and a staggering 12 have been tied after 90 minutes. The higher-ranked team has won seven of the games with the underdogs picking up just three victories. The most common scoreline in these games has been 0-0 (eight times) while 12 have been goalless at the break and 10 ended with fewer than two goals.
Despite a strong array of attacking talent in both teams these sides are undoubtedly defensive as their results in this tournament have shown. Both will feel fortunate to have gone so deep in the tournament but there’s no reason for either to change their tactics here. There are a number of ways to play this one with the draw at anything around 3.00 looking attractive and we wouldn’t put anyone off a 0-0 HT draw at 2.25 or a full-time one at 6.00.
BACK – Drawn match 3.00