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  • Apr 21, 2014
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PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2008, 12:00am

The European Championships have the capacity to surprise more than the World Cup, and this year's tournament has been no exception.

The semi-finals pit two of the pre-tournament favourites, Germany and Spain, against a pair of rank outsiders, Turkey and Russia, and another upset winner is a possibility. Greece in 2004 and Denmark in 1992 came from nowhere to win the Euros and, in such a concentrated tournament, the margins between the teams are narrowed.

That was evident in the quarter-finals, where three of the four victorious teams had finished not only as runners-up at the group stage but had also been second in their qualifying group. The exception was Spain, who are the only unbeaten team in the tournament.

Both Turkey and Russia have shrugged off defeat in their opening games to reach the semis, and the most remarkable journey has been undertaken by Turkey, who have trailed in every match so far and have been in front for just a handful of the 390 minutes they have played in the competition. Germany have momentum of their own after overcoming Portugal in the quarter-finals, however, and they are unlikely to give up the lead easily if they get in front.

Spain probably deserve to be favourites after slaying their Italian demons - as well as their June 22 penalties jinx - in the quarter-finals. They renew rivalry with group D runners-up Russia in the semis, having beaten Guus Hiddink's young side 4-1 in their opening group match.

Russia had chances in that match, however, and go into tomorrow night's rematch with plenty of momentum after showing themselves to be one of the best attacking teams in the tournament with successive wins over Greece, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Spain v Russia has the potential to be a cracker, but so did Russia's quarter-final and that took a long time to ignite. With so much at stake, semi-finals tend to be tense affairs. Since 1984, eight of the 12 semi-finals at the Euros have been level after 90 minutes and only four of the 12 have had more than two goals in 90 minutes.

With that in mind, the draw/draw on the HaFu is a bet to consider on both semi-finals, as is under 2.5 goals.

The draw/draw, which has occurred in seven of the past 12 semi-finals, represents good value. In a tournament unusually short of draws at the group stage, it is notable that three of the four quarter-finals were draw/draw.

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