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Euros quarter-finals preview: Spain vs Germany, Portugal vs France

Spain vs Germany


Euros quarter-finals preview: Spain vs Germany, Portugal vs France

Euros quarter-finals preview: Spain vs Germany, Portugal vs France

Spain vs Germany

Two of the most exciting sides in this tournament meet in Stuttgart on Friday. Can Spain do something they’ve never previously managed at the Euros or the World Cup; that is, knock out the host nation?

Luis de la Fuente’s side were (briefly) given cause for concern against Georgia in their round of 16 tie. Those pluckiest of underdogs opened the scoring against the run of play in the 18th minute – though Spain fought back to win 4-1.

Before that, La Roja had cruised through the group stage without conceding a goal. Spain’s players seem to be operating with a fluency and understanding that Gareth Southgate must look upon with envy.

But Germany look a handful themselves, even if they stumbled in their 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

That game aside, Julian Nagelsmann’s team have impressed with 2-0 wins over Hungary and Denmark, plus that tournament-opening demolition job on Scotland when the Germans won 5-1.

It would be naive to expect a similarly goal-packed quarter-final, of course. But as excellent as they’ve been so far, it’s definitely not a given that Spain win, either.

Germany have played four previous Euros quarter-finals – and progressed to the semi-finals on each occasion.

Technically, one of those matches was a draw after 90 minutes, with Germany eventually beating Italy on penalties in 2016. But one way or another, the Mannschaft have a habit of making the semis.

That said, they’ve failed to beat Spain in tournament football since 1988. Germany could nick it again, yet De La Fuente’s side are clearly a huge threat. Each nation is a three-time Euros champion, too. So who has the edge here?

Backing the draw after 90 minutes at 9/4 might feel like a copout, but it’s also got a fair chance. You could even take 1-1 in the Correct Score market at 24/5. That’s how three of the last four meetings between these sides have finished…

Following that train of thought, you could also take Germany to win on penalties at 9/1. If it comes down to it, it’s not just a cliché that this nation are particularly adept at spot kicks; they’ve won their last six shootouts, four at the World Cup, two at the Euros.

Portugal vs France

France are apparently on a mission to win the Euros in the most prosaic manner imaginable; they’ve made it to the quarter-finals and are yet to score a goal in open play.

Two own goals and one converted penalty make up France’s goal tally at these Euros – but that’s been enough to get Didier Deschamp’s side this far.

Presumably there’s more attractive football to come – but then again, Greece did taste glory in this tournament 20 years ago with three 1-0 wins during the knockout stages.

If the abundance of France’s talent contrasts annoyingly with the dull but effective tactics of the coach, at least Les Bleus’ plan looks to be working.

Portugal laboured in their last 16 tie against Slovenia. Many football fans will have watched Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance on Monday and concluded the 39-year-old is as much liability as legend for the national side.

Notably, prior to the penalty shootout that decided the match, Ronaldo missed what might have been a crucial penalty of his own – and failed to contain his tears afterwards.

Who can know for sure what the forward was thinking? But the man who has done more than any other to question the idea of there being no “I” in team seemed upset chiefly for himself and his waning ability. Has anyone ever told Ronaldo that it’s not all about him?

Certainly not manager Roberto Martinez. After Portugal had eventually defeated Slovenia in the penalty shootout (the exceptional Diogo Costa saving all three of the spot kicks he faced – and Ronaldo scoring his own, to give him his due), Martinez said he “thanked [Ronaldo] for being the way he is, for caring for the group. I think we’re all very proud of our captain.”

Be that as it may, Ronaldo hasn’t scored at these Euros yet. Portugal are unlikely to enjoy many chances against France; Belgium managed just three shots against them in their round of 16 tie.

And Portugal have plenty of talented attacking players to call on, from Goncalo Ramos – he scored a hat-trick against Switzerland in the Qatar World Cup – to Liverpool’s Diogo Jota.

Portugal seem to be hamstringing themselves by steadfastly relying on an iconic star in his dotage. Yet Martinez seems to have no appetite to stand down a man who clearly cannot get his head around the concept of doing something for the greater good.

In any case, with France scoring twice in their last three matches and Portugal drawing a blank across their last two games, this looks like it could be another low scoring affair. France to win 1-0? You can back that Correct Score bet at 27/5 – or just back France to win at 29/20.

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