BOTH Portugal and Austria come into their game on Saturday under pressure. Gavin Horsfall (@GHorsfall) gives us his view.
Portugal v Austria | Saturday 20:00 | BBC One
What were you doing a month ago? I don’t know about you but I was trying to wriggle my way out of knee deep liabilities on my Eurovision book, still the continent’s greatest betting heat by the way.
If I was perhaps a little more shrewd I may have been tempted by the 9/4 for Austria to beat Portugal on the second Saturday of Euro 2016, drawn in by their dominance in qualifying and their impending ‘tournament dark horses’ tag.
Turns out Austria coach Marcel Koller spent much of the last month trying to take the pressure off his side, he just wanted them to be happy, enjoy themselves, he didn’t want the nation going overboard he said.
He was full of it in the build up to their 2-0 defeat to Hungary as well, I don’t want us being overawed by national euphoria he stated, whilst talking up a relaxed approach to the tie.
I’ve a degree of sympathy for Austria here, finding themselves in the last group they were forced to sit and watch tournament minnows over the first four days sit back and defend, pose very few problems and let their stronger counterparts dictate however they wanted.
If they thought Hungary would do the same then they were mistaken as Bernd Storck’s side were much more offensive than their muddling qualifying campaign suggested.
In truth it could have been a different outcome if David Alaba’s shot goes inside the post instead or Martin Harnik does a better job when sliding in at the far post, a game of inches it may be but a few missed opportunities early doors plus an opponent that’s not playing ball and sitting back and it’s easy to see how Austrian heads may have been caught off-guard.
Portugal’s 1-1 draw with Iceland all felt gloriously Portugal-like. A performance best described as moody, plenty of posturing from the big man at 7 who’s self-confidence isn’t quite on a level with the 10 he plays with, they probably thought they had done enough, but they hadn’t and Iceland got a point.
Fernando Santos wasn’t impressed, changes look assured come Saturday night which may mean a starting place for Ricardo Quaresma and Renato Sanches but it doesn’t really matter because once again they’ll look for Ronaldo to run the show.
Portugal are on the drift but I doubt you’ll see the 13/10 you could of got a month ago despite them putting in that performance against Iceland, all the movement has been on the other side of the market where we can now back Austria at 7/2 after that 2-0 loss on opening night.
There’s a distinct possibility that Koller has been so busy trying to take the pressure off that it’s perhaps best that the pressure is now almost certainly on, in that context it’s a positive thing that Portugal come next instead of a slippery tie against Iceland.
A fully focussed Austria, carrying less of the hype that followed them around pre-tournament might just bring about a performance that belies their current odds.
Portugal v Austria – Austria to win (7/2 Skybet)