Will we see Ronaldo in tears once again?
Tonight, the final sixteen for the 2012 European Championships will be confirmed as the qualifying play-offs enter the second leg stage.
November 15th, 2011
Unfortunately, in three of the four games, we’re expecting a collection of damp squibs as Croatia, Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic all hold leads that they really should hold onto. Arguably the most vulnerable of the three are the Czechs, who have to defend a 2-0 lead over Montengro in Podgorica but elsewhere, not even Ireland could throw away a 4-0 lead as they host Estonia in Dublin whilst Croatia are at home to defend a 3-0 lead over Turkey.
But it is the fourth game that intrigues us, with Portugal hosting Bosnia and Herzegovina in Lisbon following a 0-0 draw in Zenica and whilst our hearts so dearly want to see the ‘winker’ in tears again, our heads also think that it’s a genuine possibility.
The 0-0 result makes things a little bit interesting, especially when you throw that pesky ‘away goals’ rule. One goal for the visitors can really put the pressure on Portugal and the visitors are more than capable of getting it.
English fans will be all too aware of Edin Dzeko’s abilities up front but the B&H team does possess plenty of quality alongside him.
Twenty-one year old Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanić is a highly regarded playmaker whilst the experienced Zvjezdan Misimović of Spartak Moscow brings goals from midfield.
So the Bosina & Herzegovina side a useful outfit, but Portugal are world class, right? Surely they can overcome this tie at home?
Well, that’s why they’re the favourites tonight but let’s not forget that the Portuguese are prone to the occasional choke when the pressure is on – in fact, it is that trait that has got them to this position in the first place.
In their opening game of the group stage, they were held to a 4-4 draw at home to Cyprus. The following game, they lost in Norway. Wins followed but they were almost guilty of throwing a lead at home to Iceland back in October and, needing a win to qualify outright for Poland and Ukraine, they lost 2-1 to Denmark.
We’re not sticking the kids’ inheritance on it by any stretch, but we do think that Bosnia can put the hosts under pressure tonight and, if they get a goal, they’re the ones on the driving seat. A win or a score draw will see Bosnia & Herzegovina although the 9/1 on a win outright is a tempting price, we’re going for the less risky option of Bosnia & Herzegovina simply to qualify for the tournament by any means at 11/4 with Betfred and Paddy Power.
Portugal vs Bosnia & Herzegovina: Bosnia to qualify – 11/4 (Paddy Power / Betfred)