What: Euro 2012 Qualifiers – Group H
Who: Cyprus (4th; 2 points) vs Portugal (1st; 10 points)
When: Friday 2nd September, 2011, at 19:45 UK time
Where: GSP Stadium, Nicosia, Cyprus

Hoping for a Miracle

Sitting fourth in a five-team group, things do not appear that promising for Cyprus in their efforts to book a place at the 2012 European Championship. With Denmark, Norway, and next opponents Portugal all leading the way with ten points, Nikos Nioplias’ men will need nothing short of a miracle to surpass these contenders. As of now, hope remains their strongest ally.

For a team that has never reached the final stage of a major event, Cyprus at least have realism on their side. Despite clocking up two draws and two defeats from their four games, the Cypriots can remember visiting Portugal last year and playing a full part in the thrilling 4-4 draw.

This match will serve as Nikoplias’ first in charge of Cyprus and the coach has big-game experience having bossed Greek giants Panathinaikos in the 2009/10 campaign.

Nikoplias will remind his charges that they have it within themselves to score against Portugal and, if they do, the ball will be firmly in Paulo Bento’s side’s court. Counting against Cyprus however is a lack of experience when it comes to playing against teams made up of foreign players as all the country’s squad ply their trade at home.

Training Camp Troubles

Leading Group H, Portugal will want to take the next step when they travel east in order to face Cyprus. With just three games left, Paulo Bento and his side know that maximum points are imperative should they want to take another step towards securing their place in next summer’s football festival. As Portuguese players begin their club seasons, the group should be fit and ready.

Led by goalscoring machine Cristiano Ronaldo, the Seleccao das Quinas hold an admirable attacking record, as Cyprus well know. However, the Portuguese have not had a trouble-free build-up to this game, with veteran defender Ricardo Carvalho walking out of the country’s training camp.

The Real Madrid defender apparently learnt of Bento’s plans to leave him on the bench for this game and decided to quit international football in protest. Carvalho spoke of being “disrespected and hurt”. How this will affect Portugal remains to be seen.

Recent form

Cyprus 0-2 Sweden (08/02; Friendly)
Cyprus 0-0 Iceland
(26/03; Euro 2012 Qualifiers)
Cyprus 3-2 Moldova (10/08; Friendly)

Portugal 2-0 Finland (29/03; Friendly)
Portugal 1-0 Norway
(04/06; Euro 2012 Qualifiers)
Portugal 5-0 Luxembourg
(10/08; Friendly)

Players to watch

Cyprus – Antonis Georgallides: The Cyprus custodian will have to be at his absolute best when he faces Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and the rest of the Portuguese strike force. With Cyprus the clear underdogs for this game, Georgallides looks like the key man to inspire a home victory.

Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo: The forward’s scoring run does not appear to have an end anytime soon, as he put three past Real Zaragoza in club action last weekend. Ronaldo’s strength and competitiveness gives any side an extra edge, and he will be looking to emulate his club form with the national team.

Match Prediction

It will be very difficult for Cyprus to come up with a single point, even on home soil, against a team such as Portugal. While the Cypriots held their visitors to an entertaining draw the last time the two met, it remains unlikely that history will repeat itself this time around. Cyprus 0-3 Portugal.

Who will come out on top in this Euro 2012 qualifier clash between Cyprus v Portugal? Check out the latest Euro 2012 Odds and important facts that will help you to broaden your football knowledge and place a bet on the winning team.