Portugal vs Spain
Many are looking forward to a fantastic start between two of Europe’s biggest powerhouses. However, I don’t think anyone expected things to end up like this.
Spain are heavy favourites to make a deep run at the World Cup 2018, given their superb roster and knack for playing superb football at the biggest competitions. They are slated to dominate Group B against Portugal, Morocco and Iran.
However, an unexpected event has rattled La Roja to their core and is set to topple their entire campaign upside down. Things have definitely gotten a lot harder for the 2010 champions to produce World Cup 2018 results without any hitches.
Like the rest of the world, everyone at us is eyeing their opener against Cristiano Ronaldo with nervous anticipation. Sure, they have a lot of better players than the Selecao, but can they focus on the victory as they grasp at straws in the aftermath of Julen Lopetegui’s actions?
Real Madrid find themselves in the middle of controversy once again as their acquisition of Lopetegui as their coach for the next La Liga season has caused the Spanish football federation (RFEF) to fire the 51-year-old two days before this all-important fixture.
RFEF president Luis Rubiales explained the decision was made after the body was informed of the acquisition only five minutes before the club announced their new man at the touchline. Rubiales himself described the last-minute headache as “a very difficult situation”.
“I know there’s going to be criticism whatever I do,” he said. “I’m sure this will, in time, make us stronger. You can’t do things this way, two or three days before the World Cup. We have been compelled to make the decision.”
Lopetegui, who took charge in 2016 after Vicente del Bosque’s retirement, was unbeaten throughout his stint as Spain manager. He will be replaced by Fernando Hierro, Spain’s sporting director, for the rest of the campaign.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spanish faithful would come to hate Los Blancos even more. Egypt fans are already fuming after what Sergio Ramos did to Mohamed Salah, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some supporters of the Spanish red would be throwing less-than-nice words towards Real supporters when they come back from Russia.
This ouster has put the Spaniards in a tough situation. Lopetegui’s tactical brilliance has helped Spain get back to the status as one of the power hitters in world football. While the squad respects Hierro due to his previous experience as a player, he did not choose this crop of players and he will have to make do with what he has in the very limited time he has remaining.
It is in this time of unconceivable invulnerability that Portugal can try to steal a win. Cristiano Ronaldo has been a thorn among many football supporters outside the Spanish capital with his play for Real Madrid. The 33-year-old will want this World Cup run to matter and will look to make life frustrating for Spain the only way he knows how: dominating from the wing and setting up scoring chances for his team-mates.
Of course, we can be assured that the Spaniards have prepared for the terrific player that is Ronaldo. Keeper David de Gea claimed that the team will be prepared for the winger.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is well studied, and everyone knows he’s one of the best in the world,” De Gea told the press. He also explained that there is a strong supporting cast behind Cristiano, making this game a difficult match.
The Iberian Derby has happened 36 times, and Spain won 18 of those matches. While their meetings in the 1920s-30s saw Spain dominating their Iberian neighbours, their recent meetings have shown the amount of growth Portugal’s football teams have shown. Spain have only won three of their last five meetings, and their last match was decided by penalties.
Recent results give La Roja supporters faith that their squad can pull through. Thanks to Lopetegui, they haven’t lost a single match throughout their qualifying campaign. Their last three games could boost the hopes of fans: they won 6-1 against Argentina, followed by a 1-1 draw against Switzerland and a 1-0 win against Tunisia
Meanwhile, Portugal have a mixed bag of results. Ronaldo’s team lost 3-0 to World Cup absentees the Netherlands, drew to Tunisia and Belgium, and won 3-0 against Algeria. Given the level of competition they’re coming up against, their recent form is worrying at the very least.
What are the Odds?
If you check the best betting sites for World Cup 2018 odds of this match, you’ll find that Spain are favoured to snag the three points in this upcoming iteration of the Iberian Derby.
In the Asian Handicap market, La Roja get attractive 2.44 odds with a -0.75 handicap. If you believe that Portugal’s persistent trait will at least get them a point, going for Portugal with a +0.25 boost will reward you with 2.17 odds.
The 1X2 market also offers interesting odds. Spain get 2.09, a Portuguese victory is at 3.70, and punters will have 3.10 for a draw.
There is a good chance that we will see goals in this match, so making a bet at the Over-Under market should also be considered. Over 2.25 goals is at 2.17 if you see this game getting extra goals. However, If you think either Spain or Portugal could wiggle through with a 1-0 win, Under 2.00 goals is available at 2.07.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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