Euro 2016 last 16: Croatia can carry on charge past Portugal
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | June 23, 2016
Croatia v Portugal
- Euro 2016 last 16
- Saturday, June 25th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
- Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens
- Live on ITV
Croatia to belie bad record against Portuguese
Portugal have won all three previous duels with upcoming Euro 2016 last 16 opponents Croatia, and so are a tasty 17/5 price with Coral to do so again in normal time as they aim to reach the quarter-finals for the sixth time in succession.
Finishing third in Group F at the last minute, after Iceland scored a late winner against Austria, may look to be a blessing in disguise for the Navigators. They avoid a tie with England, as well as potential meetings with the likes of France, Italy, Spain and Germany in the bottom half of the draw.
However, Portugal instead come up against the dark horse of the tournament in Croatia, who topped Group D after shocking Spain in their final fixture.
That match was even without their key man Luke Modric, who was rested for the occasion, and so they are the slight favourites at 8/5 in 90 minutes, and odds-on at 4/5 just to qualify.
What does Coral football ambassador Alan Shearer think ahead of Croatia v Portugal? Here are his thoughts on this last 16 battle
Spanish-based pair to star for Blazers
Former Blackburn Rovers frontman Nikola Kalinic and Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic got the goals in the 2-1 triumph over La Roja, and so are respective 13/5 and 15/8 shouts to net anytime again.
It was Perisic’s second strike of the tournament, after he opened the scoring against Czech Republic, so why not take a punt at the 27-year-old breaking the deadlock once more at 13/2?
Superstar duo Modric (5/1 in the anytime market) and Ivan Rakitic (10/3), of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, have got the Blazers’ other two goals these Euros, and are set to reunite in the heart of midfield for this clash.
Meanwhile, Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic is strangely yet to fire this tournament, but if you fancy him to do so in this battle then take odds of 7/4.
For Portugal (21/10 match shouts, even-money to qualify), Modric’s fellow Los Blancos hero Cristiano Ronaldo finally found his scoring boots when bagging a brace past Group F victors Hungary in a highly entertaining 3-3 draw.
Ronaldo has had his fair share of free-kick opportunities these finals so far, so surely it only a matter of time before he is on target. He is 12/1 to do so against Croatia.
Ronaldo and Nani key to Portugal’s success
The three-time Ballon d’Or winner will need to be in top form if his side are to overcome the Croats for the fourth time in succession, and so is an enticing 7/5 just to net anytime. Odds of 7/2 say he can hit two or more again, while he’s 10/3 to strike first as he did when the two teams last met in a friendly in 2013.
Ronaldo’s former Manchester United teammate Nani has also claimed two goals this tournament, coming against Hungary too and Iceland. The current Fenerbahce forward is 6/1 to break the deadlock in his 100th international appearance, like he did both times against the above mentioned opponents, and 7/4 to score anytime.
Former Chelsea loanee Ricardo Quaresma impressed when he came on against Hungary, so can be backed at 2/1 in the same market, while new Bayern Munich signing Renato Sanches is 5/1 to get his first international goal.
These two teams will no doubt give it their all to ensure a place in the quarters but, as Croatia perhaps boast the slightly better team on paper, they are 11/2 to win with both sides scoring.
Or, if you fancy this encounter to go the distance, the Blazers are 9/1 to triumph in extra-time or the same price on penalties.
Coral’s top tip: Croatia to win with both teams scoring is a great price at 11/2.