Hungary v Portugal: Holders set for winning start

Portugal and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the attack as ever

Expect no slip-ups as short-priced favourites Portugal launch their title defence on Tuesday, writes James Eastham...

"Given the quality of Portugal’s defensive players and the side's naturally pragmatic instincts, Portugal are worth considering in the To Win to Nil market at a price of 2.111/10. With the chances of Portugal conceding fairly low, this is a better option than merely backing Portugal to claim all three points at 1.444/9."

Hungary v Portugal
Tue 15 Jun, 17:00 BST
Live on ITV

Portugal strong favourites

Portugal are one of the dark horses to win Euro 2020 and their opening game against Hungary is an excellent opportunity for them to steal a march on their group rivals.

The defending champions went into the tournament as sixth favourites to lift the trophy, which appeared to underrate their chances given the quality and experience in their ranks.

This opener against Hungary is all the more important because Portugal have fallen into Group F alongside heavyweight contenders France and Germany.

As a result of the standard of opposition that they will face in their next two matches, getting off to the best possible start will be in everyone's minds in the Portugal camp and it would be a surprise to see them slip-up.

Hungary rank outsiders

Hungary have home advantage for this fixture but are rank outsiders in the group and the gulf in class between the two sides is apparent.

Not a single player in the Hungary squad would break into Portugal's Starting XI and the disparity in quality all over the pitch ought to be apparent.

In attack Portugal are expected to use Bernardo Silva and Diogo Jota either side of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Expect flexibility of movement and positioning from the front three, and Jota's record of six goals in 14 international appearances takes some of the goalscoring responsibility off Ronaldo.

Behind the three front players Bruno Fernandes goes into the tournament looking to live up to his billing as one of Europe's best no.10s. Like the trio playing ahead of him, he will have the freedom to roam and move into the areas where he can most hurt the opposition.

Obdurate Portugal should triumph

Portugal are likely to use a couple of blocking midfielders, with Danilo Pereira and William Carvalho among the contenders to feature. Then, behind this protective wall, Portugal can rely on one of the tournament's most rugged central defensive pairings in Pepe and Bruno Alves.

Five years ago Portugal famously won the tournament by being extremely difficult to beat. Their obduracy against virtually all opposition remains arguably their outstanding quality and throws up the best betting opportunities on this game.

The odds of 1.444/9 on Portugal to win will be too short for many observers. However, if, like us, you fully expect Portugal to win, then backing Ronaldo and co. with a -1.0 Asian Handicap start is an option at 1.84/5.

With this Asian Handicap selection, you'll lose only if Portugal fail to win. If Portugal win by a single goal, you'll get your stakes back, and if Portugal win by two or more goals, you'll make a profit.

Smart ways to back the favourites

Given the quality of Portugal's defensive players and the defensive instincts of the side, Portugal to win to nil is worth considering at 2.111/10. With the chances of Portugal conceding fairly low, this is a better option than merely backing Portugal to win at 1.444/9.

The likely combination of a Portugal win and a strong Portugal defensive performance throws up other options. In the Match Odds and Over/Under 2.5 Goals market, Portugal/Under 2.5 Goals is worth looking at. This is available at 3.185/40, an appealing price given that Portugal are overwhelming favourites in a game where the three-goal barrier may not be broken.

In summary, this is a game where Portugal ought to have too much quality for one of the tournament's weaker sides. By taking into account the favourites' pragmatic nature there should be chances to make a profit at better odds than merely accepting the short price available on a Portugal victory.

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