Odds: Portugal 3/5, The Draw: 14/5, Iceland: 25/4
Potentially inspired by the sporting culture of their opponents on the day, Portugal have seemingly abandoned the concept of the drawn football match, last sharing the spoils in the second encounter of a hugely disappointing World Cup 2014 against the USA.
In the 21 contests that have elapsed since that stalemate, they’ve followed a strict binary sequence of wins and losses that has proved largely profitable (they won 14 of them).
Possibly picking up on the Portuguese’s Americanised approach to playing the beautiful game, Iceland have adopted a similar policy, with no draws falling in their last ten fixtures.
Unfortunately for them, this has not yielded the same success as it did for the Seleccao, for seven of these games ended in defeat.
UAE and the United States themselves are among their vanquishers in this streak, which was almost entirely comprised of non-competitive clashes.
These stats essentially render one of the three possible match-betting punts redundant ahead of the duo’s first fixture at Euro 2016, but who will emerge triumphant?
Win, Lose or Draw?
As stated, the third option outlined above is irrelevant, while those games in the run up to the tournament don’t reflect favourably on Iceland.
However, they qualified in second place from a difficult pre-tournament group, containing Czech Republic, Turkey and the Netherlands (Strákarnir okkar actually obtained seven more points than de Oranje) so clearly will provide Portugal with a sterner challenge than recent games suggest.
While their success was chiefly obtained from results at home (they beat all comers aside from group whipping boys Kazakhstan and Latvia, whom they drew with), they weren’t too shabby in the matches they required a passport to partake in.
They won in Amsterdam, as well as in Kazakhstan and Latvia, while defeats in the Czech Republic and Turkey come with caveats of minor mitigation.
In Plzen, it was an own goal that settled the game 2-1 in favour of the Czechs, while the Turks were the beneficiaries of a last-minute wonder strike from Selcuk Inan in their 1-0 victory over the unfancied Scandinavians.
To heap yet more statistical support on the Icelandic outfit, Portugal were gunned down in two of their previous three Euros openers.
Fair enough, the most recent of these came against Germany (a 1-0 loss in Lviv), but in 2004 – the tournament which they hosted – they surrendered the laurels to Greece, who of course went on to win the competition.
Even their 2-0 first-fixture win in 2008 over Turkey was something of a grind, with the game a tense one up until Raul Meireles’ injury-time, victory-sealing strike.
Having recently lost to Albania and the Cape Verde Islands inside the last two years, Cristiano Ronaldo and co are by no means immune to an upset, so get on the underdogs here.
Recommended bet: Iceland to win @ 25/4
If Iceland are to win, history suggests the total goals count will fall under the three-strike threshold.
Six of the Portuguese’s last seven losses contained fewer than three goals, with their last four ending 1-0.
It was the same result in half of Iceland’s previous four victories.
Their attacking potency can’t be questioned against this foe too, with four goals scored in just two competitive matches against Portugal.
Who’s Going To Score?
Iceland boast something of a Gareth Bale equivalent in Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose six goals in qualifying were one fewer than Wales’ one-man band managed.
He found the net in the two competitive matches in which his country registered a goal, while he honed his penalty-taking skills in their penultimate friendly, scoring from the spot in a 3-2 loss to Norway.
A third of his qualification goals came outside of Iceland and it is he whom the nation will depend upon here.
Recommended bet: Sigurdsson to score, Iceland win 1-0 @ 66/1
In three of the previous four games Portugal have lost (all of which were 1-0) the decisive goal came in the final five minutes.
It makes the odds on an Iceland strike in the final 15 minutes especially appetising.
Recommended bet: Over 0.5 Iceland goals between 75:01 and Full Time @ 17/4