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P.J. Murray 27th Apr 2011 - 15:36

Iberian Insanity

The Europa League semi-finals are predominantly a Portuguese affair, however throw Villarreal into the mix and it creates an all Iberian affair. Undoubtedly the pick of the semis is the clash of Benfica and Braga, this will be the first all Portuguese match in a UEFA competition.

Benfica v Braga

Braga have not beaten Benfica in Lisbon in over 50 years, they are 6/1 to end that losing streak. Unsurprisingly the home side are 8/15 to take a win to Braga while the draw is priced at 11/4.

This will be the 60th meeting of the clubs in all competitions, however Thursday night's clash will be the most important.

Benfica are 2/5 to progress to the final in Dublin, the hosts will be confident of doing so but Braga will be looking to upset these odds.

The morale surrounding Benfica will not be what it should be after being knocked out of the league cup on away goals by Porto and also the fact that they have lost the league to their hated rivals.

Braga on the other hand are going for a 13th successive game without a defeat, they have nothing to lose with no real expectations on them.

Rodrigo Lima hasn't scored in quite some time for Braga yet the striker is 8/1 to score first and 11/4 to score anytime. If ever there was a game for him to break his duck it would be this. Benfica will be looking towards the pairing of Oscar Cardozo and Javier Saviola to get their goals, Cardozo is 7/2 for first goalscorer while Saviola is 4/1.

Braga are 11/8 to start with a goal in our handicap markets, while the home side are 8/5 to start minus a goal.

With no real pressure and no expectation the minnows in Braga have a chance to do something massive and anything but a heavy defeat for them will leave them with a good chance of progressing to the final which is why I think they are a good bet at 11/8 plus a goal.

Porto v Villarreal

Villarreal are the only non-Portuguese team left in the competition, but this Iberian derby will be contested with as much fervour as an actual Portuguese derby.

Both sides put in outstanding performances in their quarter-finals, obliterating their opposition. The Yellow Submarine are 9/2 to come away from Portugal with a win while Porto are 13/20 to take a victory with them to Espana.

Porto have wrapped up their domestic league and are still unbeaten having won 25 of 27 games this season. Villarreal are chasing their first ever European silverware and are 5/4 to qualify for the final. Porto are 4/7, but anything other than a win at home will push that price out.

The home side are 7/2 to be leading at halftime and win the game in our double result market, but the Draw/Porto is 16/5.

At 19/20 both teams to score looks to be a good bed considering their form in the previous round both home and away and over 2.5 goals at 10/11 could well be a punt.

Having home advantage is massive for Porto, but I find it a close game to call and so for me the bet is both teams to score at 19/20.



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