Portugal vs. Spain: 2018 World Cup – Match Preview

The first real stand out fixture of the 2018 World Cup takes place on Friday evening as Portugal entertain Spain in The Iberian Derby.

Portugal, European Champions least we forget, qualified having won nine on the spin to overhaul Switzerland on the final round of fixtures.

How far they go in the competition could heavily depend on the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has enjoyed an incredible 2018 thus far.

In pre-tournament friendlies, Portugal were held by Tunisia and Belgium, however eased past Algeria in the most recent fixture.

Spain’s preparation for the tournament couldn’t have been more chaotic, with manager Julien Lopetegui dismissed three days before their opening fixture.

Lopetegui agreed a deal to take over Real Madrid at the end of the competition, just a few weeks after extending his contract with the National Team.

The Spanish FA didn’t take the news well and he was sacked on Wednesday. Former La Roja international Fernando Hierro has taken charge of the team.

Match history
Portugal have only won six of the 36 meetings between the two nations, the most recent a 4-0 success shortly after the 2010 World Cup.

Spain went onto have the last laugh though, eliminating their neighbours at the semi-final stage of the 2012 European Championships a little over 18 months later.

Last five international meetings
Portugal 0 Spain 0 (Spain won on pens) – 27/06/12
Portugal 4 Spain 0 – 17/11/10
Spain 1 Portugal 0 – 29/06/10
Portugal 1 Spain 0 – 20/06/04
Portugal 0 Spain 1 – 06/09/03

Under 2.5 goals – 8/13 with Bet Victor

Team news
Key defender Pepe had fitness issues towards the back end of the league season with Besiktas, however will be fit for the Portuguese.

After an excellent campaign with Valencia, Goncalo Guedes is expected to lead the line ahead of Andre Silva.

Dani Carvajal is unlikely to be fit enough to start for Spain in their opener, with Nacho the most likely replacement.

Thiago, Marco Asensio and Iago Aspas are likely to be substitutes, highlighting the incredible strength in depth Hierro has available to him.

Expected starting XI’s
Portugal (4-3-3): Patricio; Cedric, Pepe, Alves, Guerrerio; Carvalho, Moutinho, B. Fernandes; Silva, Guedes, Ronaldo
Spain (4-3-3): De Gea; Nacho, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Koke, Busquets, Iniesta; Silva, Costa, Isco

Predictions

Result: Draw (11/5 with Sky Bet)

Correct Score: 1-1 (6/1 with Bet Victor)

Anytime Goalscorer: Isco (11/4 with 888 Sport)

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