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Stuart Dalgleish 10th Nov 2011 - 19:15

Euro 2012 play-offs preview

Bosnia v Portugal - 19:00 live on ITV4

Bosnia (11/5) and Portugal (7/5, draw 2/1) are meeting in the play-offs for the second major tournament running, after they played each other in qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

The Portuguese got the better of those games with two 1-0 (11/2) wins, but were then dreadful at the tournament proper only managing to score in one game.

They are much more of a potent attacking force now, compared to Carlos Queiroz's defence minded approach, they rattled in 21 goals from eight qualifying matches, but they're vulnerable to concede with their new mindset.

That's why I would be tempted into 21/20 on both teams to score, when you've got Cristiano Ronaldo (7/2 first goal) in the form he's in for Real Madrid, and also with a renewed confidence on the international front - there should be goals.

Bosnia also have a player very familiar to UK viewers in Edin Dzeko (6/1), the forward found it tough going on his debut season in the Premier League, but he's been sensational this year for Man City and will be pivotal to his country's hopes.

The pressure is on Portugal, they are the team expected to qualify (4/11, Bosnia 2/1) and I think they will, but they might find it tougher going than in their World Cup play-off and will have to be patient to find clear-cut opportunities, draw/Portugal in the double result could be a good bet at 9/2.


Turkey v Croatia - 19:05 live on ESPN

Croatia (11/5) can count themselves unlucky to be in the play-offs after being in pole position in their group until the penultimate round of fixtures, when a defeat in Greece left them needing to win their final game and hope for favours.

Of course, they didn't get the results they needed and now face a tricky tie against Turkey (7/5, draw 2/1) if they're to get to Poland and the Ukraine next summer.

The Turks will look to make Turk Telekom Arena a cauldron of noise and as intimidating as possible for the visitors, they will really need to because their attack is far from intimidating.

After opening up with six goals and six points from their first two games, they then followed that up with just seven goals and 11 points from their remaining eight matches, despite having two 'whipping boy' nations in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan as group rivals.

If they don't score in the first leg, then the 4/6 on Croatia to qualify (11/10 on Turkey) will look like a steal, the Croats are a much more stylish team than their opponents and have a player in Luka Modric (12/1 first goal) who can change a game in an instant.

The Tottenham playmaker isn't prolific in front of goal, but his superb eye for a pass means he's the player that Guus Hiddink will instruct to his men to keep quiet.

Turkey will look to their meeting in Euro 2008 for inspiration though should they go behind, Ivan Klasnic struck in the 119th minute to seemingly put Croatia through to the semis, but then Semih Senturk equalised a minute later and the Turks won on pens.

I don't think there will be as much drama this time, and I'd be looking at a narrow away win in Istanbul, 1-0 to Croatia looks a good price at 13/2.


Czech Republic v Montenegro - 19:15 live on William Hill TV

Czech Republic (3/4) were playing for second place as soon as the qualifying draw was made when they were paired with Spain, and thanks to some questionable decisions at Hampden Park, that is exactly what they achieved.

Scottish fans are still raging at Kevin Blom awarding that 90th minute penalty after a blatant dive, then failing to spot a clear cut pen for Scotland just seconds later.

That's all in the past though, and fans north of the border will I'm sure be cheering on Montenegro (4/1, draw 12/5) to give them some belated justice by qualifying at the Czech's expense (1/2 Czech, 6/4 Mont).

I can't really see Montenegro qualifying though, they did well to hold England to two draws after their great second half comeback in their penultimate qualifier, but they're an average outfit and if they somehow made it to the main event I'd fancy them to finish last in whatever group they're in.

Branko Brnovic will be fairly pleased that he's facing the Czech Republic though because it could've been a lot worse, for that reason they have a sniff of getting through, but they need to still be in it for the second leg.

It is perhaps unsurprising that this game is the solitary play-off match to not have been picked up by a TV company, but you can catch all the action on William Hill TV.

I can't see it being a classic and I'd be looking at under 2.5 goals at 6/10, and even a 0-0 draw at odds of 15/2.

If the Czechs are to find a breakthrough though, they'll be looking to their set-piece expert Michal Kadlec (10/1) to unlock the Montenegro defence, the Bayer Leverkusen defender bagged four goals in qualifying and will be present whenever there's a free-kick awarded.



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