Spain vs. Portugal
|Date & Time||Friday June 15, 2018, 2:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Spain -112 / Draw +251 / Portugal +361
The most intriguing matchup of Friday’s World Cup schedule comes to us from Group B as the defending European champions Portugal take on the 2010 World Cup winners in Spain from the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi.
Portugal comes into this World Cup as the 4th ranked team in the world, qualifying for the 2018 edition of the tournament as tops in Group B of UEFA qualifying with a 9-0-1 record, claiming 27 out of a possible 30 points in the group stage. There’s a lot of star power on this squad, with the usual suspects like the captain, CR7, Cristiano Ronaldo, who leads the current Portuguese squad with 150 caps and 81 goals. Joao Moutinho anchors the midfield and Pepe, vice-captain, is the glue of the back line of defence that Rui Patricio will protect between the sticks.
Spain comes into the big dance as the #10 ranked team in the world, claiming a spot at Russia 2018 by finishing at the top of UEFA qualifying group G, taking 28 of a possible 30 points from their 10 qualifying matches. La Roja contains pretty much an entirely UEFA club based roster, with the exception being Andres Iniesta, who should probably still be in that list after just parting ways with Barcelona. Still, David De Gea will protect the Spaniards’ goal, while Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba and co. will be tasked to anchor the back line. Iniesta along with other key pieces like David Silva, Marco Asensio and Diego Costa will be in charge of leading the offensive attack for Spain in the tournament.
These teams have met three times this decade, splitting the meetings down the middle, each side winning once with a draw as well. Portugal won a friendly 4-0, while Spain won their World Cup qualifier in 2010.
Like I said before, there’s a ton of star power in this matchup. And while Spain may have the larger quantity of name recognized players, Portugal has a deep squad that shouldn’t be overlooked. The plus money with a highly ranked team like Portugal is tempting, but I think that speaks to how talented Spain’s roster looks. With that said, I think this will be a heavily contested affair throughout, and the draw seems like the most likeable option to me in this one.