- Spain have won just 2 of their last 12 games against Portugal
- Spain haven't conceded in the knockout stages of a tournament since June 27th 2006
- Portugal are the only side to have started with the same 11 in all four of their matches so far
12 down and just four teams left in the 2012 European Championships and tonight sees the opening semi-final as Iberian rivals Spain and Portugal meet. For the defending and world champions Spain it's been fairly straight-forward in reaching this stage. They won two of their three group games and cruised past an uninspiring France in the Quarter-Finals. Portugal on the other hand have had to battle. They lost their first match against Germany and then scored a late winner against Denmark before a fantastic deserved win over the Dutch. In the Quarter-Final they eventually saw off the Czech Republic after a lot of huffing and puffing.
As you would imagine Spain are odds on across the board to win this match in 90 minutes while Portugal are generally 7/2 to get the job done in normal time. Those prices look incorrect. The odds are almost identical to the prices of the second semi-final where Germany are a touch of odds on to beat Italy. If you asked 100 people who faces the stiffest semi-final task between Spain and Germany we would expect a large percentage to say Spain. The Germany price is right, the Spain one is wrong. Portugal have been written off here at 7/2 and that is puzzling.
If we scratch the surface a little it's been a workmanlike campaign from Spain so far. They couldn't get past Italy and took till the 88th minute to score against Croatia while France didn't turn up in their Quarter-Final. Do Spain really deserve to be odds on here? Portugal seem to have improved game by game as the influence of the talismanic Ronaldo grows. Okay they took a bit of time to see off the Czechs but let's not forget their dominance over Holland and determination against Denmark.
The Portuguese have a strong record against Spain too. Spain have beaten them just twice in their last 12 games and this game should be tight. Spain don't score many goals in these kind of games. Cast your mind back to 2010 where a quartet of 1-0 wins in the knockout stages was enough to see them crowned world champions. Don't expect them to run away with this tie. To be fair Spain don't concede many either and it's six years to the day since they last conceded in the knockout stages of a tournament.
So we're expecting a close match. We're expecting a big show from the Portuguese, and when you get offered prices like 7/2 (90 mins) and 19/10 (To Qualify) on them you have to take advantage. It's all about price here as there's not much between the sides. Portugal have been underrated and it's time to back them at 19/10 with Stan James to reach the Final. This could certainly go to Extra-Time so it's best to go To Qualify for that added security.