Croatia – $2.70 at Sportsbet
Draw – $3.10 at Bet365.com
Portugal – $3.10 at William Hill
AFTER topping Group D, Croatia ($1.77 to qualify at CrownBet.com) are deserving favourites to progress from the last 16 of the European Championships.
The Vatreni were outstanding against Spain on Tuesday, rallying from a goal down to clinch a 2-1 win through strikes from Nikola Kalinic and Ivan Perisic.
The performance was all the more impressive for the fact neither Luka Modric nor Mario Mandzukic – both on the verge of suspension – were required to take the field.
Those two will be back in the mix this weekend as the Croats look to reach the Euro quarterfinals for the third time as an independent nation.
Such is the quality and experience of Ante Cacic’s squad, more than a few pundits are now tipping the 1998 World Cup semifinalists to make it all the way to big dance at France 2016.
That mood is reflected in the Euro 2016 outright betting at Sportsbet, where Hrvatska have plummeted to $11 for the title after starting the tournament as $26 dark horses.
According to the coach, their achievements so far have given the Croatian players plenty of pep heading into a difficult knockout fixture.
“At this stage of the competition there is no easy opponent, but we have got maybe the toughest,” Cacic told the press.
“But, we were in the hardest group of the tournament and we managed to progress so there is no reason that we won’t go into this match without confidence.”
He added: “We respect Portugal, but we believe in our quality, togetherness and character which we have shown till now and we are looking forward to this challenge.”
There’s no denying which team has all the momentum.
Whereas Croatia were lumped in one of the toughest groups of the tournament, Portugal were gifted what appeared to be the easiest draw imaginable.
But it was Hungary and Iceland who secured the top two places in Group F, leaving the Seleccao to squeeze through as one of the better third-place qualifiers.
Even that spot looked in jeopardy as they trailed three times to the Magyars during Wednesday’s six-goal thriller in Lyon.
That result made it three draws from as many group games for the Portuguese, who enter the round of 16 as the only surviving team yet to register a win.
When talking to reporters earlier this week, Cristiano Ronaldo was cautious about Portugal’s chances against a talented Croatian squad.
“A good side now awaits us,” said the Real Madrid star, who opened his Euro 2016 account with a brace against Hungary.
“Our chances are 50:50, who plays better on the day will go through. Croatia are a dangerous side with very good players.
“Not everyone can beat Spain. Croatia have done that and they must be respected.”
Cristiano Ronaldo Euro 2016 MegaBet odds
CR7’s two-goal effort on Wednesday saw him become the first player in history to score at four different European Championship finals.
He’s the obvious danger man in the Portugal attack, which is why Sportsbet.com.au is running a Euro 2016 MegaBet special for the last 16 clash in Lens.
Log in or sign up at Sportsbet to get boosted $9.50 odds for a double wager on Cristiano Ronaldo to score the first goal and Portugal to qualify for the quarterfinals.
That’s just one among dozens of Euro 2016 Ronaldo betting specials available at our top online bookmakers:
Ronaldo to score the first goal – $4.75 (Bet365)
Ronaldo to score a header – $7 (William Hill)
Ronaldo to score inside 10 minutes – $19 (William Hill)
Ronaldo to score a hat-trick – $46 (William Hill)
Ivan Perisic betting specials
If you were to list the best 11 players at Euro 2016 so far, Perisic would be one of the first names down.
The Inter Milan winger was close to unplayable at times in the group stage, racking up two goals and two assists in three games.
That included the late winner against Spain to send Croatia to the top of the group.
It’s players like him that show the Vatreni are much more than Modric and 10 others.
Given how Portugal’s defence failed to contain a spirited Hungarian attack, Perisic looks a good bet to find the score sheet.
Perisic to score anytime – $3.75 (CrownBet)
Perisic to score first goal – $9 (CrownBet)
Perisic to score first and Croatia to win (90mins) – $12 (Bet365)
Perisic to score two or more goals – $23 (Bet365)
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