Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal take on Spain in the first of two blockbuster Euro 2012 semi finals on Wednesday night and we've came up with five interesting bets on the game.
Spain have been so dominant at Euro 2012 that they have been called 'boring' in the media but it seems harsh to criticise a side simply because they are so good at keeping the ball. Vicente Del Bosque's players don't just beat opponents, they walk all over them.
However, Portugal have one thing that La Furia Roja don't have; Cristiano Ronaldo. The forward is familiar to his opponents from his time in La Liga, where he wins games single handedly for Real Madrid, breaking goalscoring records along the way. Whether or not he can do this on Wednesday will, of course, determine if Portugal are playing in the Euro 2012 final.
Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the world's most famous winker, it is sure to be a thrilling match in Donetsk and there are plenty of ways to make a profit on the game. We've scoured the markets and came up with a list of the top five bets that we think stand a chance on Wednesday night.
1. Spain to have Under 66.99% Possession @10/11 Stan James
Spain will have most of the ball on Wednesday but where have Stan James pulled this line from? A 4-0 win over Republic of Ireland saw them have officially 66% ball possession, the 1-0 win over Croatia was 65% in favour of the Spanish while the stats were 60% and 55% against Italy and France respectively. Portugal are arguably a better side than all of those teams and so one would imagine that they will see more, not less of the ball, than the other four. William Hill have set the Over 65% line at 7/2, which implies odds of 2/7 on Under 65% so to get a higher line at much better odds simply screams value.
Pepe up against Barcelona players? Expect some tough tacklers and sly kicks off the ball then. The Portuguese defender excels at the 'dirty side of defending' and he will snap at the heels of Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Xavi throughout the 90-minutes. Referee Cuneyt Cakir gave out six yellows and one red card in the match between Italy and Ireland in the group stage and he should have plenty of opportunities to add Pepe to the list of players that he has booked this summer.
3. Spain to win 1-0 @5/1 Bwin
Spain have dominated all four of their matches so far at Euro 2012 but only against Ireland did they manage a scoreline that reflected their superiority. This has been down to the fact that Vicente Del Bosque's side play a very narrow style of football based on possession rather than penetration. They will happily score once and then simply pass the ball around to kill the game. Portugal will pressure but it may not be enough to break through the Spanish resistance and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a third clean sheet in four games for the Spanish.
7-2, 8-2, 11-4, 7-3. Those are the scores that Spain have won the corner count by in their opening four matches at Euro 2012. This has happened due to the amount of time they spend with the ball in the final third of the pitch and there's no reason to suggest that it won't be the case once more against Portugal in Donetsk. Several firms have set the handicap line at 3 in favour of Spain but Betfred have gone a little lower with two at a higher price and that makes it very appealing indeed.
5. Andres Iniesta to be Man of the Match @5/1 bet365
The Man of the Match award at Euro 2012 is officially awarded based on a public vote and that makes it more predictable than some other markets and, therefore, more profitable. Popular players and 'crowd pleasing' attackers will be chosen over defenders and there have been few that captivated the audience more this summer than Andres Iniesta. The Barcelona midfielder has been pushed very far forward by Del Bosque and given licence to run at defenders. The 28-year-old is arguably the best dribbler in the world and his close control in tight spaces is a joy to watch. The public certainly think so and have voted Iniesta Man of the Match in two of Spain's four games at Euro 2012, despite a lack of goals. He is the favourite to scoop the award again on Wednesday and, unless Ronaldo bags a hat-trick, he has to be considered as the main contender. Odds of 5/1 are far too generous.