The clash between Portugal and Spain will be played at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on June 15th. The Red Fury is a favorite on this one, but they shocked the planet with the news of the head coach Julen Lopetegui’s sacking only a day prior to the start of the World Cup, so the Navigators will be looking to take advantage of that situation.
Portugal vs. Spain
Three-Way: 1: Portugal +320; X: +220 Draw; 2: Spain +110 (Odds provided by Delaware Park Sportsbook)
Spread +0.5: Portugal -120; Spain +110
Total 2.5 goals: Over +140; Under -189
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The road to the World Cup
The current European champions qualified to their seventh World Cup and fifth straight after finishing at the top of the qualification group ahead of Switzerland, and they are hoping for a much better performance following a disappointing campaign four years ago in Brazil where they ended in the group stage.
On the other hand, the Red Fury made it to their 15th World Cup and 11th consecutive, and the 2010 champions are desperate to bounce back from a miserable display in Brazil, where they also finished in the group stage with a win and two losses.
Portugal played seven friendlies since the last November and won three with three draws as the only defeat came to Holland who even didn’t make it to the World Cup. That was the only time the Portuguese failed to find the net, while their latest game with Algeria ended 3-0.
Spain hasn’t lost a single of 20 matches with Julen Lopetegui at the helm, including six friendlies in which they recorded three wins and three draws. The Red Fury destroyed Argentina 6-1 in the process, drew with Switzerland, and beat Tunisia 1-0 in the final tilt before heading to Russia.
The Spanish FA decided to sack Lopetegui after finding out that he signed a contract with Real Madrid, and despite penning a new deal with Spain that would keep him until 2020, Julen had to go even though Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta tried to convince the FA not to show him the door. It remains to be seen how this decision will affect the players, but it will surely not help them, so Spain could struggle with Fernando Hierro who is appointed to lead the nation here in Russia.
Players to watch
Portugal’s all-time leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo (81 goals in 150 appearances) will drive his team forward at this tournament and he will undoubtedly be the go-to guy on this one, and although the Spanish players and particularly defenders know him well, it will be hard to handle Ronaldo.
Spain is without such a prolific scorer on the other end, but they have a world-class goalkeeper who had a great season with Manchester United and David de Gea will probably have plenty of job against Portugal, so all eyes will be on him.
- Neither team managed to score more than once in each of the last four H2H duels
- Portugal had the most shots on goal (230, 23.0 per game) of any team during the European WC qualifiers
- Spain scored in each of the previous 20 games
They met on 11 occasions so far and Spain has five victories while Portugal was better in two matches, while the Spaniards beat them on penalties in the most recent clash in the semi-finals of the Euro 2012. Although I don’t expect to see a bunch of goals here and despite the fact that both teams failed to score in the last five meetings, I am backing goals on both sides, which should be a better option at great odds than opting for Portugal or Spain to win.
The Pick: Both teams to score YES (+114)