One of the most eagerly anticipated first round matches of the 2018 World Cup will see Portugal and Spain face off in their Group B opener at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on Friday, June 15, kick-off at 20h00 CAT.
The Iberian derby is expected to decide which of these teams tops the group, with both expected to finish ahead of Morocco and Iran in the race for last 16 berths.
Portugal has enjoyed a solid if unspectacular warm-up programme for the tournament, playing to draws against Tunisia and Belgium before wrapping up with a 3-0 win over Algeria in Lisbon last Thursday, which featured two goals for Goncalo Guedes.
Spain comes to Russia 2018 looking to gain redemption for their dreadful showing in Brazil four years ago when they exited the tournament in the first round as defending champions. Their build-up this time around has been low-key, with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland followed by a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Saturday night.
With these two teams confident that they can get six points from their other Group B matches against Morocco and Iran, they may well be prepared to settle for a stalemate. Yet if one is to edge the clash, it will probably be ‘La Furia Roja’, who have the greater cohesion and creativity.
Portugal’s key player – Ronaldo
Yet there is no doubting the key player in coach Fernando Santos’ side: Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugal’s captain, all-time most capped player (150) and all-time highest goal scorer (81). At 33, this could well be his international swansong and he will be hoping to lead ‘A Selecao das Quinas’ to World Cup glory, just as he did two years ago in the European Championships.
Spain’s key player – David De Gea
‘La Furia Roja’, who are coached by Julen Lopetegui is one of the outright favourites for this year’s World Cup and boast a squad which is rich in world-class talent. Goalkeeper David De Gea is arguably the best shot-stopper in the game today, their experienced defence is epitomised by the warrior spirit of Sergio Ramos, while striker Diego Costa’s bullishness is the perfect compliment to a midfield featuring the invention and imagination of Andres Iniesta and David Silva.
Portugal v Spain – head-to-head
Portugal and Spain have met in 35 previous matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The Spanish have dominated the Iberian derby, claiming 16 wins compared to six for their rivals and neighbours. The last time the teams met was in the semifinals of Euro 2012 – the match ended goalless and Spain triumphed on penalties (before going on to win the tournament).
Matches played 35
🇵🇹 Portugal wins 6
🇪🇸 Spain wins 16
🇵🇹 Portugal goals 41
🇪🇸 Spain goals 72
*odds correct at time of publishing
Last Five Games – head-to-head
In the last five meetings, Portugal won 2 games and Spain secured 3 wins.
|🇵🇹 Portugal||🇪🇸 Spain|
Portugal Spain stats
- Portugal tends to score an average 2.0 goals when playing at home, Spain scores an average of 3.3 goals when playing away.
- The average number of goals when Spain and Portugal meet is 1.8
- Spain’s recent performance this season has been better than Portugal
World Cup Facts
- Spain has finished at the top of their Group in three of their last World Cup tournaments.
- Spain last faced Portugal in a World Cup in 210, Spain won 1-0
- Portugal and Spains last four encounters at major tournaments only produced 4 goals.