A flying start to his WLB career from Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism). Here he shares his thoughts on Friday night’s Group B concluder from the European U21 Championship between Macedonia and Portugal.
Macedonia U21 v Portugal U21 | Friday 19:45 | Sky Sports
A 3-1 loss to Spain in Gdynia on Tuesday leaves Portugal on the brink of elimination from the tournament. They were arguably the better side during the game but were unable to take their chances.
Macedonia thought they had produced a remarkable comeback against Serbia, after scoring two second-half goals which saw them lead 2-1, with the game heading to its conclusion. A 90th minute equaliser from Serbia’s Uros Djurdjevic was a bitter pill to swallow for the Red Lions and left them unable to reach the semi-finals.
If it wasn’t for Spain ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Portugal will feel like they would have won the game on Tuesday night. The Spain shot-stopper kept the Portuguese forwards out on multiple occasions, and was only beaten by a wonder striker from Bruma.
Portugal are now unable to seal top spot in the pool due to their inferior head-to-head record but the Iberians will hope to pocket a semi-final place as the best second-placed team. To do this, they need lots of goals.
With Group A concluded, Slovakia sit in second place with a +3 goal difference and six points, while Portugal currently have a zero goal difference and three points. They would be guaranteed to move ahead of Slovakia in the running if they were to score four goals or more and win by a three-goal margin here.
The permutations for Macedonia to qualify are far simpler – they can’t. The results from Thursday night see them unable to finish as the best second-placed team so they’re just playing for pride in the final group game.
Blagoja Milevski has revealed that he is going to have to make changes in this game because his “players are tired” and both Boban Nikolov and Darko Velkoski could be unavailable due to injuries.
This could be a huge blow for Macedonia, as they look to end their tournament with a positive result.
The betting angle
“Our first aim is to win this game, and we’ll try to win by as many goals as we can.” Portugal U21 boss Rui Jorge wants his players to win, and win convincingly. They defeated Lichtenstein, Albania, Greece and Israel all by three or more goals in qualifying, and they need to do the same on Friday night.
Spain dispatched a full-strength Macedonia side comfortably in the first group game, and with Portugal looking just as dangerous as the Spaniards have throughout the tournament, I fancy them to inflict a similar punishment.
Portugal are 11/10 (Betfair) to overcome a two-goal handicap and secure victory by that magical three-goal margin, which is something they must do if they have any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Macedonia U21 v Portugal U21 – Portugal -2 Handicap (11/10 Betfair)