In the wake of their well-deserved but cautious semi-final victory over Wales, many fans have written off Portugal ahead of their Euro 2016 final against France.
But there are plenty of reasons to think the attacking talents available for A Selecao will be enough to see off the hosts. For starters…
Nani and Ronaldo are an outstanding pairing
The former Manchester United duo have been perhaps the finest partnership of the tournament, with their intuitive link-up play too hot to handle for opponents throughout the tournament.
Indeed, Ronaldo has provided the assists for all three of Nani’s goals, while his former Old Trafford teammate has also turned provider. And with this double act having only improved throughout the tournament, the French backline could well be the latest victims of the pair’s neat through-balls and deft finishing.
That means there’s plenty of value in backing both Ronaldo and Nani to score against France at 20/1 – with the duo having done just that in two of Portugal’s last four games – against Hungary and Wales respectively.
They’re likely to outpace the French full-backs
There’s little question that Patrice Evra and Bacary Sagna have been excellent full-backs during their careers, but with a combined age of 68, they’re ill-equipped to deal with the pace posed by the likes of Ronaldo, Nani or Quaresma – as well as the speed and strength of young Renato Sanches, who loves to foray forward.
With France one of the tournament’s most attacking sides, their Iberian opponents could well exploit Les Bleus’ lack of pace at full-back to produce another magnificent counter-attacking goal like Quaresma’s extra-time winner against Croatia.
Out-jumping France could be a key factor. Ronaldo’s magnificent leap, evident for his headed goal against Wales, has become one of the Real Madrid man’s trademarks. And he could have plenty more chance to dominate in the air against a French side whose back four in their game included three players under six-feet tall.
Portugal’s defence can make those goals count
While shipping three goals to Hungary in the group stage saw some questions raised about this Portugal defence, they’ve responded in the perfect manner, conceding just a single goal in the last 365 minutes of play.
While doubts remain about Pepe’s fitness, Fernando Santos’ backline against Wales managed superbly without the 33-year-old, with Bruno Alves and Jose Fonte rarely allowing the Dragons a sniff at goal.
That means the 5/1 for Portugal to win to nil could be an inspired bet, while at the other end, many customers have already plonked their money on Ronaldo to score in both halves at the juicy price of 25/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.