Ronaldo and Messi clash as Portugal duel with Argentina
Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo (3/1 with Coral to steer his side to a memorable victory) will be hoping to best Ballon d’Or rival Lionel Messi and run riot against Argentina on his former stomping ground.
Another triumphant return to Old Trafford, this time for country instead of club, could well be on the cards for the Real Madrid superstar.
Rampant Ronaldo netted the last time these two teams faced each other back in 2011, although his equaliser was cancelled out by mischievous Messi’s 90th minute penalty.
The Navigators captain is 4/1 to score first after grabbing the winning goals for Portugal in his last two games, and will have understandably, but perhaps unfairly, have much expectation surrounding him ahead of this encounter.
Ronaldo is also available at a fantastic 5/1 to bag a brace or better, but his nation will need others to step up if they are to leave Manchester with all the spoils.
Sporting Lisbon loanee Nani (10/3 to be on target anytime) has been in fine form since returning to his former club, so the Navigators faithful will be hoping an impromptu return home to Old Trafford does not stunt his confidence.
The 27-year-old has been lighting up Lisbon, with five goals and four assists across all competitions so far, sparking talk of being recalled to his parent club.
High-flying Nani needs to focus on his international performances, though, and provide much-needed support for star man Ronaldo.
A promising midfield featuring Monaco maestro Joao Moutinho and Sporting’s resilient William Carvalho, backed by the recent returns of former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho and midfielder Tiago, should provide a stern test for Argentina’s attack.
However, whilst Portugal rely almost solely on their skipper for goals, La Albiceleste have more weapons than just Messi at their disposal, and are odds-on favourites at 10/11 to win and ruin Ronaldo’s homecoming.
New coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has slightly tweaked with the side that reached a World Cup final, moving Angel Di Maria further forward as part of a prolific front three, and has overseen three wins in his four games in charge.
‘El Noodle’ has been thrilling the Premier League with his performances since his summer switch from Madrid, and is 7/1 to open the scoring in his new advanced position, after previously drawing first blood against Portugal.
Meanwhile, magnificent Messi, who has been on the scoresheet three times in his last two caps, is available at a fantastic 12/1 to hit a hat-trick, or 3/1 to fire home last yet again.
A show-stopping performance will be expected from La Albiceleste’s array of attackers. Leading Premier League marksman Sergio Aguero (6/1 to bag a brace or better) and Napoli hitman Gonzalo Higuain (6/5 to score anytime) are both hungry to be part of the action.
Recently recalled Serie A top scorer Carlos Tevez (5/1 to net last), will also been to make an impact on his return.
Whilst the build up to this fascinating fixture will undoubtedly focus on leading men Messi and Ronaldo, the key to this clash will still likely be their support artists. This means Argentina (17/5 to bag three or more goals) should just be too much for Portugal to handle, as new boss Fernando Santos continues to get to grips with his role.