Saturday, October 20, 2018

Prediction: Portugal vs Spain

Prediction: Cristiano Ronaldo first goalscorer

Odds: 23/5

Bookmaker: 888Sport

Spain get their already-tumultuous World Cup underway on Friday night as they take on reigning European champions Portugal at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

The 2010 champions kick-off their tournament without Julen Lopetegui and begin with a difficult task against Cristiano Ronaldo’s men in Group B in Russia.

Portugal

The Portuguese arrive in Russia in excellent form having finished top of their qualification group. Fernando Santos’ men won nine out of their ten games to reach the tournament, only falling to a 2-0 defeat to Switzerland on the opening matchday. Despite that, the squad have not been in the best form since claiming their ticket to the World Cup. In seven warm-up matches since the conclusion of the qualification campaign, they have won less than half of those. In that time, they have battled to disappointing draws against the likes of Tunisia and the USA, as well as a poor defeat to the Netherlands.

Having said that, the team did manage to overcome Algeria 3-o before they arrived in Russia so they appear to be back on track just at the correct time.

Team News

Santos clearly has one of the best players in the world to call on in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid superstar has played in 13 previous World Cup matches, scoring three goals. Meanwhile, there are no injuries to concern the Portuguese hierarchy heading into their first match of the tournament.

Spain

It is fair to say it has been a dramatic week in Spanish football. Following the announcement that boss, Lopetegui, was taking over at Real Madrid following the conclusion of the World Cup, the move was made to replace the 51-year-old with Fernando Hierro. Despite the drama leading up to the tournament, the 2010 world champions are still in stunning form. The Spaniards are undefeated in their last 20 matches, in which they have managed to pick up some stand-out results; the highlights including a 6-1 success over Argentina and a 3-0 thumping of Italy.

That form was a major reason as to why they were able to book their ticket to the World Cup. In ten qualifiers, Spain did not lose a single one. As a matter of fact, they only dropped two points as they finished top of their group.

Team News

The only injury doubt that Hierro has to contend with is the slight doubt surrounding defender Dani Carvajal. The Real Madrid man suffered a knock in the Champions League final against Liverpool. Cesar Azpilicueta could well deputise with both Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique set to claim the centre-back berths.

Key Facts to Consider

  • Spain have the far better record between the two sides (W17, D12, L6)
  • Spain beat Portugal on penalties the last time these two met competitively in 2012
  • The last World Cup clash between the two ended 1-0 to Spain
  • Despite their poor record, Portugal have only lost three out of the last 13 games against Spain
  • In the last five games, more than one goal has only been scored on one occasion

Conclusion

It would be fair to suggest that this game is one of the most tantalising games of the opening stages of the World Cup. Plenty of attacking talent will be on display and the supporters could be set to see goals. Cristiano Ronaldo once again will surely be motivated to get one over his Barcelona adversaries and could be the man to open the scoring in what might be a high-scoring draw.

Prediction: Cristiano Ronaldo first goalscorer

Odds: 23/5

Bookmaker: 888Sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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