Sweden V Portugal – Eden Stadium, Prague at 19:45 live on BT Sport 1
The U21 European Championship reaches its climax tonight in Prague, where Portugal take on Sweden to decide which nation will win their first ever U21 European crown. We had a mixed bag of results with our Asian handicap betting recommendations in the semi-finals, but still took home a small profit.
Not many people would have picked the 5-0 and 4-1 score lines that transpired in the previous round, especially with both pre-match favourites on the wrong end of those humiliating defeats. But, it leaves us with an intriguingly balanced final between the classy Portuguese and the organised and efficient Swede’s, who began the tournament as rank outsiders.
In fact Sweden’s road to the final began with a 2-1 victory over Italy, for which they were priced up as 4.3 underdogs and despite beating the Italians, they were then priced up at 4.7 when they took on England in their second match.
Despite somehow losing against Gareth Southgate’s understrength team, Hakan Ericson’s side did not let it derail their campaign and a battling 1-1 draw (when priced at 4.20) against tonight’s opponents Portugal saw the unfancied nation progress to the semi-finals.
For a third time out of four the efficient Swedish team overcame the odds against Denmark and this time they did it in style, as they brushed aside their Scandinavian rivals with two goals either side of half time.
That impressive victory, against a side not too dissimilar in style and tactics from Portugal will have given Ericson’s experienced team of youngster’s great confidence as they head into the final tonight.
The Portuguese had been tipped as possible dark horses for the title before a ball was kicked, they had stormed through their qualifying group by winning all eight games and scoring 22, but conceding just 6 goals in the process.
However, Rui Jorge’s team had been struggling to find their exhilarating best football in the Czech Republic until their emphatic semi-final display, where they crushed tournament favourites Germany 5-0 in a stunning, clinical display of attacking football.
During the group phase it was a very different story, with goals proving hard to come by. They almost accidentally won Group B by virtue of being undefeated, but nobody was that impressed with their five point haul and just two goals in three games, despite dominating possession with plenty of attractive build up play.
Luckily for Jorge, they found their groove to such an extent against Germany that star playmaker Bernardo Silva was substituted after just 50 minutes, in order to make sure he was as fresh as possible for tonight’s final.
In terms of the betting markets, Sweden are again being written off with a price as high as 5.25 to win in 90 minutes with some bookies. That price is simply far too big, so the value is clearly with the underdogs this evening and with an Asian handicap betting line of +0.5 priced up at an attractive looking 2.20, it is worth a small investment as the Swede’s should at least keep this game close, if not win it outright.
However, we will also be taking a position on the Asian handicap goals market as well because with two teams in great scoring form, but playing with hugely contrasting styles, there should be space and opportunities to score throughout the match.
The Asian handicap goals line allows us to play it slightly more cautiously, just in case the two contrasting styles and pressure of the final subdues the attacking talent on display.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sweden +0.5 at 2.20 and Over 2.25 Goals at 1.93
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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