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Euro 2008 Betting Update; Russia v Spain with the bookmakers making Spain their 11/10 favourites

Added: (Tue Jun 24 2008)

Pressbox (Press Release) - The story of Euro 2008 may be great attacking football, but it’s also about teams who promise so much, initially deliver… and then fall by the wayside. Portugal and Holland both looked potential winners of the tournament before producing the sort of lacklustre, badly-organised performances that nobody saw coming. Will Russia, Holland’s conquerors, follow suit?

The manner in which Guus Hiddink’s side took apart Marco van Basten’s Oranjemen in Basel on Saturday night prompted predictably hyperbolic reactions across Europe, with many commentators ready to crown the eastern Europeans champions with two games to go. Such commentary is folly, and even more so given the fate that befell the Portuguese and Dutch. Russia were outstanding against Ruud van Nistelrooy and co. – but that has very little relevance to this match.

The worst thing Hiddink’s players can do is believe the hype, which is exactly what van Basten’s squad seemed to do before crashing out. You get the feeling that the wonderful Andrei Arshavin and his team-mates have their feet planted more firmly on the ground, but that doesn’t mean they are equipped to beat a Spain team whose struggles to reach the last four have been a blessing for them.

In the past Spain have been guilty of buying into the hype about their ability, but their reliance on last-minute goals to beat Sweden (2-1) and Greece (2-1) in the group stages, followed by the tense, dour 120 minutes of football that led up to their penalty shoot-out win over Italy in the last eight, will have left the entire squad in no doubt as to how difficult it is to win the competition. As a result there will be no complacency in the Spanish camp.

Perhaps even more crucially, an extra element of competitiveness has been fed into the mix at exactly the right time. Cesc Fabregas and Daniel Guiza came on for Xavi and Fernando Torres respectively in the win over Italy, with the replacements performing far more effectively than the starters, who were hitherto automatic choices. That sort of competition for places will add a potentially vital extra edge to their performance.

Yet, despite fancying Spain, we feel the draw is a better price at 5/2 than the Spaniards to win in 90 minutes at 11/10. It would be no surprise to see Luis Aragones’ side make the final but the 4/7 on them to do so has absolutely no appeal. Russia are 6/4 to reach Sunday’s showdown, or 3/1 to win in normal time, but the draw is the best bet simply because it occurs so frequently in European Championship semi-finals. It’s done so in eight of the last 12 last-four matches, with at least one semi finishing all-square after 90 minutes at five of the last six tournaments. That alone is reason enough to favour the stalemate.

A penalty shoot-out win is more likely to occur than a victory in extra-time – five of the last eight Euro semi-finals that have required an extra 30 minutes’ play have needed spot-kicks as well – but you get the feeling with this Russia side that chances will be created at one end and conceded at the other as legs grow tired. They know no other way to play than all-out attack – which is why a victory in extra-time is more appealing on this occasion than is usually the case. Spain are 11/1 to win in extra-time, with Russia 14/1. If you’re a speculative punter, splitting your stakes across those two outcomes would be worth considering.

Recommended Bets - 4pts Draw 5/2

Recommended Bets - 0.5pt Spain to win in extra-time 11/1

Recommended Bets - 0.5pt Russia to win in extra-time 14/1

• All prices correct at time of writing.


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Andrew Newton
Managing Editor
020 7691 0660

Submitted by:Andrew Newton
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