It’s Fernando versus Fernando, Portugal versus Spain
The Group B opener between Portugal and Spain is an absolute blockbuster of a game. Both sides were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup at the group stages, that shouldn’t be the scenario this time around. The current European Champions can emulate their neighbours by adding the World Cup to their trophy cabinet. Spain’s tournament preparations looked to be going to plan until Real Madrid threw a spanner in the works.
Spain 11/10 – Betfair
Draw – 11/5 – William Hill & Bet 365
Portugal 16/5 – Several bookies
Portugal are second favourites for this game. Cristiano Ronaldo will put sentiment to one side when he faces a number of his Real Madrid teammates. There’s not much more to add about Portugal skipper. He’s brilliant. Spain could well be in for a rough ride if he has a good game. Head coach Fernando Santos has a proven record for getting the most out of his squad. William Carvalho looks set to line up in a four-man midfield, a unit that will have to work hard without the ball. Goncalo Guedes made his stake for a first-team start by scoring a brace in the 3-0 win against Algeria. The Valencia forward had a lean time in La Liga, scoring five goals, however, he did have 11 assists.
Spain can put their recent managerial events behind them by picking up three points in Sochi. Dani Carvajal is unlikely to be fit for the Group B opener. Álvaro Odriozola is set to deputise at right back. Spain’s strengths lie in the midfield. Fernando Hierro has a richly talented midfield to chose from. Andrés Iniesta is the most notable of the La Roja’s centrocampistas. Marco Asensio and Isco are both developing into key players for club and country – if you haven’t selected them in your World Cup fantasy team, ask yourself why not. The Spanish defence impressed during the qualifying campaign, conceding just three goals. They’ll be kept busy by the Portugal skipper in Sochi.
The pressure is on a nation tipped as one of this year’s favourites. Hierro has got it all to do.
We’re here to fight for the World Cup. The team is excited. We’ve got a great opportunity and that has to be the focus. My job is the Portugal game, then the next one, and the next… We’ve got fans and a country who are excited. Fernando Hierro, via as.com
The two heavyweights of football posses players that are used to winning at both club and international level. A defeat for either side will not mean total disaster but don’t expect them to sit back and play for a draw. What tricks does Ronaldo have up his sleeve this time around? Can Iniesta pull the strings and lead Spain to glory once again?
Portugal 1-2 Spain