Iceland’s dramatic winner against Austria didn’t just play into English hands (or so it seems) it inadvertently set up one of the tastiest round-of-16 ties Euro 2016 has to offer, between dark horses Croatia and tournament aristocrats Portugal in Lens on Saturday night.
Victory over champions Spain to clinch Group E has got many punters investing in Croatia going all the way in the tournament at 9/1, having landed on by far the plumiest side of the draw as their just deserts.
First though, the Croats must dispatch a Portugal side boasting arguably the most feared player in the competition, who, unluckily for them, finally lit the blue touch paper on his own personal campaign thanks to a brace against Hungary.
The form of Cristiano Ronaldo, the 9/2 favourite to score first, will obviously be key to the result. Ahead of the game it’s a result currently weighed slightly in Croatia’s favour as their 13/8 odds to win in 90 minutes reveal.
A Seleccao are the narrow 21/10 underdogs and the 90-minute draw is available at 2/1.
Having garnered four more points from a far more testing group, backing Ante Cacic’s men may well be the correct course of action, but given Portugal’s greater pedigree, and 3-0 head-to-head supremacy, it cannot be done with genuine confidence.
The nation currently managed by Fernando Santos were Euro finalists in 2004 and twice semi-finalists either side, including four years ago in Ukraine and Poland.
It may pay to go for goals in this one instead. Having fired in 13 more shots than anyone else at the finals, while also striking a post with a penalty previously, it’s not surprising Ronaldo finally got off the mark with a double against Hungary.
That 3-3 was the highest-scoring affair to date, while former Manchester United teammate Nani is also on two for the finals, proving the 10/3-shot to score anytime in Lens, still has plenty to offer.
Croatia also boast in-form Ivan Perisic of Inter Milan, another man on two goals for the tournament and priced up at 9/2 to score again as part of a victory for his country.
Each of Croatia’s previous two games breached the 2.5 total goals mark and that’s a sensible sounding choice here at 13/8, especially off the back of Portugal’s six-goal thriller.
Over 3.5 goals is far sexier at 4/1 though, and this is a wager which may light struggling Euros 2016 punters’ own blue touch paper.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.