Portugal vs Spain preview, betting tips and prediction
Under 1.5 goals @ 8/5 with Coral
In what is arguably the tastiest fixture of the group stage, Euro 2016 winners Portugal take on one of the favourites to win the World Cup, Spain. Punters will also consider Portugal for the tournament (as any team boasting Cristiano Ronaldo should be) but they’re nowhere near as stacked as their Iberian counterparts. As ever, Spain’s midfield will be incredibly strong and Portugal will have to be combative in the middle of the park to stop them taking control.
The last time the two countries met was in competitive action – the semi-final of Euro 2012. A tight encounter, it ended goalless and Spain prevailed on penalties. Despite concerns about who will partner Pepe in central defence, we see this being another tight, low-scoring game between two well-matched teams. Spain will have more possession and Portugal will look to gain an advantage on the counter-attack. A glorious 0-0 draw could be on the cards again.
Spain have been in irrepressible form in recent months with the most eye-catching result being their 6-1 demolition of Argentina in March. They also played out a fascinating 1-1 draw with Germany that had fans salivating for the World Cup. Their end-to-end full-blooded battle highlighted how much desire was in a team that has fallen short in recent tournaments.
Portugal won only two of their five warm-up matches prior to the group opener, both victories coming against African teams, Egypt and Algeria. Fernando Santos has a few decisions to make about his starting line-up. Deciding who will partner Cristiano Ronaldo up front will be more enjoyable than figuring out who should line up alongside Pepe in defence.
Dani Carvajal suffered an injury in the Champions League final for Real Madrid so might not be available for Spain in their opener. Marca reported that Gerard Pique and David Silva limped out of a recent training session and could be doubts for the Portugal clash too.
Portugal appear to have no injury concerns ahead of their opener.