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Portugal Euro Cup Betting Prediction – Ronaldo, Defense Has To Be Sharp At Euro 2012

Posted by Todd Shale on 5/16/2012 5:10:07 PM

Online betting players familiar with Portugal’s national team know that they’re powered by their superstar captain who is one of the top three players in the world, and he’ll be counted on heavily at the European Championship. However, the defense may play an even bigger role as Portugal aims to escape an incredibly tough group.

Manager: Paulo Bento (since September 2010)
Best Euro Finish: Second place (2004)
Soccer Betting Odds: +400 to win Group B, +1800 to win Euro 2012

Offense

Portugal scored 21 goals in their 10 qualification matches as they finished in second place in Group H behind Denmark, and seven came off the boot of captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who just powered Real Madrid to the top of La Liga in Spain and is one of the top soccer betting favorites for World Player of the Year. A big Euro 2012 will put Ronaldo in the driver’s seat for the award, but the criticism on the forward is, like his Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, Ronaldo has never really carried over his club play to his country. This is a massive chance to quiet those critics, especially with the competition Portugal faces in their group.

But Ronaldo has to have some help and that should come in the form of fellow striker Helder Postiga, who scored four goals in six 2011 matches, while Nani added three goals and two assists from the wing and he has the ability to be a gamebreaker for Portugal. Ronaldo is surely going to attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses and Nani provides a good outlet for the Portuguese counterattack. He has been inconsistent for Manchester United this season, but when he is on, Nani can be a handful for any fullback.

Defense

This is where the Portuguese struggled during qualification as they allowed 12 goals in 10 matches, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but in soccer that is the sign of a leaky defense. Rui Patricio seems to be the man between the sticks, but he is only 24 and has just 10 international appearances under his belt, although five of those came in 2011. Bruno Alves is the most experienced defender and should be joined by Joao Pereira, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, but Portugal was shaky at the back and allowed three goals at home against Iceland, a team that isn’t exactly loaded with attacking options.

Miguel Veloso and Joao Moutinho will be crucial to Portugal’s soccer betting hopes this summer as they’ll have to form a defensive shield in front of the back four to take some of the pressure off Alves and company. Portugal are going to run into Germany and the Netherlands, two of the best attacking sides in Europe, and if the midfielders don’t track back and help, Portugal are going to find themselves out of the tournament quickly, no matter how many goals Ronaldo can score.

Intangibles

Paulo Bento took over the team from Carlos Queiroz after Portugal failed to make it out of the group stage at the World Cup in South Africa, and he was the federation’s second choice after another failed attempt to lure Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid. But Bento has led the side to a few big wins, such as a 4-0 thrashing of rival Spain in a friendly in November. Even though it was only a friendly, it was still an encouraging performance from the team, which lost just once in 11 matches in 2011.

However, Bento represented the national team 35 times as a defensive midfielder and he understands that Portugal has to tighten things up at the back if they’re going to win their first international tournament. Look for defense to be a priority of his leading up to Euro 2012.

How It Will Play Out

As was mentioned before, the soccer betting odds are against Portugal in this tournament’s “group of death” as they’re rated at +400 to win Group B, and then +1800 to win the European Championship. Germany is one of the pre-tournament favorites along with Spain, while the Netherlands are coming off a trip to the World Cup final and Denmark just beat Portugal to the top of Group H in qualification as the pair split two meetings. This isn’t an easy road for the Portuguese at all, and they’re going to need a superlative effort from their captain, Ronaldo,


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