Portugal vs Spain
Competition: 2018 World Cup finals
Date: 15 June 2018
Kick-off: 20:00 CET
Portugal are considered underdogs in these World Cup finals, despite being European champions, but this actually suits them just fine. In Euro 2016 they started as underdogs, and we all know what happened in the final against France. Fernando Santos himself, Portugal’s coach, has repeated several times these last weeks that his team are “candidates” to win the trophy, but “not favorites”. Under his command, Portugal have lost just one of their 29 “serious” games (World Cup qualifiers, Euro 2016, 2017 Confederations Cup), the one against Switzerland in the WC qualifiers. Their defeat to Chile in Russia, a year ago, came on penalties, not in 90-120 minutes. They are expected to start this game with Patricio, Soares, Pepe, Fernandes, Guerreiro, Bernardo Silva, Carvalho, Joao Mario, Martins, Ronaldo and Silva.
It was one of those titles that… leave you staring at the screen of your computer/phone for a couple of seconds, trying to… connect the dots between reality and what you have just read: “Spain sack their coach”. It would have been huge if it had happened… two weeks ago, a month, a couple of months ago. The fact that it happened with the squad already in Russia, was… jaw-dropping. Julen Lopetegui was announced officially as Real Madrid’s next coach, and 24 hours later he was sacked by the Spanish FA. Former Real Madrid captain Fernando Hierro, a man of very little experience in coaching, has been hired to lead the team in these finals. Sergio Ramos was the first one to post something on social media after this incredible mess, writing something in the lines of “we are united, focused on doing the best for us, the fans, and the country”. Spain are expected to start with De Gea, Odriozola, Pique, Ramos, Alba, Alcantara, Busquets, Iniesta, Isco, Diego Costa and David Silva.
Previous five matches:
Portugal vs Algeria 3-0
Belgium vs Portugal 0-0
Portugal vs Tunisia 2-2
Portugal vs Netherlands 0-3
Portugal vs Egypt 2-1
Tunisia vs Spain 0-1
Spain vs Switzerland 1-1
Spain vs Argentina 6-1
Germany vs Spain 1-1
Russia vs Spain 3-3
Portugal’s next game is against Morocco, on Wednesday. Same day, Spain will be facing Iran.
Portugal vs Spain: Head to head Stats
Last time Portugal and Spain met, was in 2012, in the semifinals of that summer’s Euro cup, in Donetsk, Ukraine. Spain won that game on penalties. Four of the 36 games they’ve played against each other have been on neutral soil. Portugal have won once, Spain once as well (in Ukraine), and two games have ended in a draw.
Portugal vs Spain: Prediction
Given how things are at the moment, with Spain sacking their coach right before the World Cup’s kick-off, it’s… tricky to try imagine what they will look like. Still, they are vastly experienced players, and obviously, Hierro is not going to… turn things upside down, he’ll just try… manage the team, instead of inserting major new elements into their game. There is simply no time for that. All things considered, I’m backing the Spaniards to win the game, or, at least, not lose.
Portugal vs Spain: Betting Tips
Spain’s win went up after the Lopetegui news, a sign that people’s and bookmakers’ trust in them was shaken. Personally, I don’t expect the team, the players, to be THAT affected during the game, for the simple reason that they are not in their early 20s, playing international football for the first time, they are – some of them – World Cup winners, Euro winners, members of a team that have done great the last two years. I still trust them to do well in this game. Their win is at 2.10. If I left winners and losers aside, I would go for “under 2.5 goals”, but it doesn’t pay more than 1.53. For the super conservative, Spain’s double chance is at just 1.25.