Big Match Breakdown: Group B: Portugal v Spain
Odds and preview ahead of World Cup tie
The World Cup continues this evening with one of the most anticipated clashes of the group stage as Portugal take on Spain.
This Group B encounter has long been highlighted as one of the standout matches of the tournament. But it was given extra spice on Wednesday when Spain announced the departure of manager Julen Lopetegui.
Ex-Bolton Wanderers star Fernando Hierro will now take charge of La Roja. Can he deliver them a victory in Sochi? The Coral News Team have previewed the clash with another Big Match Breakdown…
This will be the eighth time the two nations have met at either a World Cup or European Championship. Spain have only lost one of those encounters and are unbeaten in their last two, most recently inflicting a penalty shoot-out defeat on their rivals at Euro 2012.
Portugal have only won two of their last 10 matches in all competitions against today’s opponents. Six of those matches have ended in a draw after 90 minutes.
Eight of the side that started Portugal’s Euro 2016 Final victory over France are expected to begin from the off here. Andre Silva will partner Cristiano Ronaldo up-front, while Bruno Alves should continue alongside Pepe at centre-half. Cedric Soares should keep his place in a 4-4-2 formation.
Spain’s preparation has been thrown into disarray following the departure of Lopetegui. Interim boss Hierro may opt for Iago Aspas as part of a three-pronged attack including David Silva and Isco. Daniel Carvajal is unlikely to return in time which means Alvaro Odriozola will fill in at right-back. Andres Iniesta will anchor La Roja in his final major tournament.
Portugal look set to play a flat four in midfield. That should allow Spain to dominate the ball with a three and dictate the play. Lopetegui has built this side on fluid possession-based football. He may no longer be in charge, but Hierro should continue along the same lines.
If Spain are about passing, then Selecao des Quinas are about the counterattack. Ronaldo and Silva are a deadly pairing. Expect them to target the inexperienced 22-year-old Odriozola as they attempt to find a way through without the majority of the ball.
Atletico Madrid ace Diego Costa is considered the most likely scorer at 11/8 Anytime, with Aspas at 2/1. Ronaldo, despite having failed to score in five matches against La Roja, is the favourite for Portugal at 8/5.
However, it may prove wise to err on the side of caution in a fixture which rarely produces gluts of goals. Four of the last five meetings between the two nations have borne one goal or fewer. It’s 4/7 for Under 2.5 Goals and 17/10 for Under 1.5 Goals.
Likewise, at least one side has failed to find the back of the net in the last five iterations of this match-up. Both Teams to Score – No, is 3/4.
And with mean defences set to be the order of the day, it’s also 10/11 for a First Half Draw.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing