Euro 2012 Betting: Ronaldo crucial to win
...probably the entire game...will turn on in-form Ronaldo's jousts with a Spanish defence that has conceded only once at Euro 2012.
Tobias Gourlay has no doubt that much lies on the boot of Cristiano Ronaldo to lead Portugal into battle with their Iberian neighbours when Spain meet Portugal in the Euro 2012 semi-final.
Portugal's results appear to be welded to the performances of Cristiano Ronaldo. After a quiet start to Euro 2012, the captain has scored three goals in two matches and the team has started to look like plausible tournament winners.
Portugal beat their neighbours 4-0 in a friendly at the end of 2010, but that was a while ago now and Spain gave the impression that the result of that game mattered less to them than it did their local rivals.
That's not the case here.
Spain will be writ large in the history books if they win this match and one more at the weekend. As Opta have noticed, the European and world champions have 17 wins from their most recent 18 competitive games, so there seems to be value in backing them to win in 90 minutes @ Betfair odds of (2.02)
There is a concern, however: Portugal last played on Thursday, while Spain were in action as recently as Saturday. Spain games tend to be more strenuous for their opponents, but del Bosque's players work very hard on the odd occasions when they don't have the ball. If the difference in rest times proves decisive, it will be cause for Uefa to have a think about how they organise these things.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
This market - and probably the entire game - will turn on in-form Ronaldo's jousts with a Spanish defence that has conceded only once at Euro 2012 and not at all in any of their last eight knockout matches.
Right-back Arbeloa and centre-half Ramos are club-mates of Portugal's star man at Real Madrid. If you think they will handle him better than most, Under 2.5 Goals is on offer @ Betfair odds of (1.56). It's a bet that has paid out in nine of Spain's 11 tournament matches under del Bosque, but the price will be a little tight for many.
Corners Match Bet
One thing we definitely know: Spain are going to dominate possession.
So far in Polkraine they've had 61% of the ball, while Portugal have made do with 46%.
Spain have won the Corners Match Bet market in each of their four games so far, but they have not played a team with anything like the wide threat posed by the Portuguese.
Portugal conceded almost 60% of possession to the Netherlands, but won the corners battle 7-5. They claimed 44% of the ball against Germany, but ended up with nine more corners.
With a little help from their full-backs, Nani and Ronaldo could spring a surprise in this market and make the Portuguese worth backing @ around Betfair odds of (3.5).
Shown a Card?
Ronaldo is a star, but he is a prima donna too. He refuses to get involved in harrying opponents when Portugal lose the ball and takes a very liberal view of what it means to play on the left of an attacking trio. He's the main man and he'll go where he wants.
That can leave the left-back, Fabio Coentrao, very exposed. Ronaldo's Real Madrid club-mate was booked three times in five appearances playing behind him against Barcelona this season. The comparison of Spain to Barcelona is a little crude, but it does highlight the perils of defending against ball-hogging opposition when one of your players doesn't think it's for him.
Coentrao will be up against David Silva at first, but, if del Bosque wants to stretch the game later on he will send on a nippy right-winger like Jesus Navas or Pedro. All three of those can create problems for an overloaded defender, who is likely to be around (3.25) to see yellow in Donetsk.
Best Betfair Bets
Back Portugal @ around Betfair odds of (3.5) in the Corners Match Bet
Back Fabio Coentrao @ (3.25) to be Shown a Card