Poland v Portugal: No winner on the night
Poland and Portugal face off in the Nations League on Thursday and these two evenly-matched sides look likely to share the points, says Jamie Pacheco.
"If you’re going to bet on the match winner, the draw is certainly the way to go. Not just because Portugal’s slight superiority as a team is cancelled out by being away and Ronaldo being absent and not just because the draw has been the most common outcome when these two have played over the years. Also because it’s the biggest price of the three despite being the most likely outcome."
Poland v Portugal
Thursday October 11, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Solid start to Nations League for Poles
Poland will still be scratching their heads about went wrong in Russia. They were excellent in qualifying, had a great squad on board, an experienced manager but it just didn't happen for them. They lost their opening two games before hitting back to beat Japan when the pressure was off; it was all too little, too late.
During the September international break, they secured a very good 1-1 draw away in Italy in the Nations League followed by another 1-1 draw at home to Ireland with a considerably different starting XI.
As ever, all eyes on skipper Robert Lewandowski. He's started the season well with eight goals from 11 appearances for Bayern Munich but unusually for him, he's now gone three games without a goal.
Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves in the squad
Where else to start? Cristiano Ronaldo isn't in the squad as Fernando Santos decided to leave him out as he faces extremely serious charges over in the States. But he may have missed out even without all that going on. He wasn't called up for a friendly against Croatia or that 1-0 win over Italy in the Nations League in September so there's a good chance the same may have happened here again.
The squad includes the in-form Benfica duo of centre-back Ruben Dias and midfielder Pizzi, Ruben Neves who has been so impressive for Wolves so far and Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, an increasingly important part of Pep Guardiola's plans these days.
The match winner market is pretty tight with Poland 17/10, the draw 21/10 and Portugal slight favourites at 7/5.
Those prices are perfectly understandable. Going back to the 2002 World Cup, Portugal have won once, Poland have won once and then there have been three draws, the last of which was at Euro 2016. Portugal went on to win that one on penalties before going on to win the tournament, of course.
If you're going to bet on the match winner, the draw is certainly the way to go. Not just because Portugal's slight superiority as a team is cancelled out by being away and Ronaldo being absent and not just because the draw has been the most common outcome when these two have played over the years. But also because it's the biggest price of the three despite being the most likely outcome.
It's probably not worth being too ambitious here and trying to nab the correct score rather than just the draw. Those three draws we spoke of were 2-2, 0-0 and 1-1 and any of those three outcomes are lively runners here. But if you really want to go for a bigger price than the straight draw, then 1-1 would probably be the one to go with at 4/1. But then again, that's the shortest price of any on the correct score market.
Portugal have failed to score just once in their last nine games; a 0-0 in Belgium in the run up to the World Cup. So there's a pretty good chance they'll get at least one here. Who can get it?
Andre Silva got that winner against Italy a month ago and has been in decent form for Sevilla with seven goals for them so far this season, including two in a 3-0 win over Real Madrid. He's 15/8 to score anytime. Benfica's Rafa has been among the goals for his club but isn't a guaranteed starter here and is yet to score for his country in 10 games so probably worth swerving at 5/1.
Centre-back Pepe could have been of interest. He got the goal in that 1-1 draw with Croatia and has a further three goals for his club side Besiktas this season but a quote of 17/2 is a bit skinny on a defender who's only ever an aerial threat from set-pieces.
If you want to go for a Portuguese goalscorer you might as well go with Bernardo Silva. There's nothing outstanding about a record of three goals from 13 appearances this season for club and country but the point is he's playing really well and gaining in confidence with every game that Guardiola shows faith in him. He'll almost certainly start and should play the full game so is likely to give you a decent run for your money at 4/1.
For Poland, Lewandowski is their most likely source of goals and is 7/2 to sore first and 6/5 to score anytime. Arkadiusz Milik has a good record at international level with 12 in 32 games but has been in and out of the Napoli side this campaign so may be a little rusty. He's 13/5.