The knockout stages of the Asian Cup will begin on Thursday, as hosts Australia will be hoping to book their place in the semi-final to face either Iran or Iraq, who will will be covered in tomorrows quarter-final preview.
Whether or not it was their intentions, the hosts did well to lose 1-0 to Korea and avoid a potential semi-final matchup with Japan. Korea will now face a team capable of being a surprise package in Uzbekistan, whilst Australia are left with a winnable quarter and semi-final matches.
China are simply not good enough to win this tournament for my money, but Australia won’t be able to tae them lightly. Bookmakers seem to be giving China less respect than I am, with the current best price of 1.60 being offered at Bet365.
After managing to escape a fairly weak group, China are priced at an unlikely 6.50 with Bet365 to beat the Aussies. As much as I do think China are lacking, that’s a hefty price that is a little too large for my liking.
Whilst I do agree that Australia should be the betting favourite to progress from this side, I expect to see something more around the 1.80+ mark in terms of match odds.
The handicap is currently -0.75AH in favour of the hosts. Having faced the weakest group in the tournament, I’ve not yet seen enough to suggest Australia can be backed to win by two clear goals at this stage of the competition.
China’s recent results against Paraguay, Honduras and Saudi Arabia stand out as results that should not be overlooked. It’s been a little while since these two sides last met, but you also can’t ignore the fact that China won the last meeting 4-3 and haven’t lost in three meetings.
Home advantage can play a big part in any international tournament, but it depends what team you’re dealing with to start with. If you were to hold this tournament in Japan, it’d be no contest. I don’t get that feeling about Australia with this tournament unfortunately.
The other quarter-final doesn’t look like it’ll be anywhere near as entertaining, but both Iraq and Iran deserve credit for sticking to their respective styles. The complicated history of the two countries does add a little spice to the fixture for the watching fans of these countries, but I don’t know if that’ll translate to the players.
Either way, I’m sure the significance of the game won’t be lost on them. Bookmakers are favouring Iran to progress and they should be in my opinion. They should be the far superior side when in possession and they have enough in their locker to score goals.
Iraq are here on the back of a weakened group also, although they deserve credit for their 1-0 win over Jordan.
Iran have not conceded a goal in their five wins since their World Cup exit, where their defensive performances against Nigeria and Argentina earned them plenty of respect. I don’t think Iraq are really, really good enough to break Iran down.
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