It is rarely, when the group stage of the World Cup brings fans a match that could justly be called a derby, but a match between the representatives of the Iberian Peninsula – Portugal and Spain – is exactly the same case.
Spain will play against the European champions Portugal in their opening match of group B on Friday night in the hope of quickly getting rid of the troubles connected with the unexpected resignation of the head coach right before the tournament.
Julen Lopetegui was dismissed from the post of head coach just two days before the first match of the Spanish national team at the tournament after it became known that he accepted the proposal to head Real Madrid – this appointment spoiled the training of the 2010 world champions.
Legend of Spanish football Fernando Hierro was appointed as coach and said that Spain should not focus on the events of recent days, and think only about a successful performance at the tournament.
Spain showed an incomprehensible game in the last two friendly games, managing a weak 1-1 draw against Switzerland and defeating Tunisia. Whatever it was, Spain start the tournament with an amazing squad, in which it’s especially worth mentioning midfield: Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara, David Silva and Isco.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo showed that he is in great form, returning to the side and inspiring them to defeat Algeria in the final friendly match. Much may depend on the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo, who will play against his teammates from Real and the usual rivals from Barcelona.
Portugal will surely go balls to the wall in this game, which promises to be tense. Of the four last meetings of these sides in major tournaments, Spain gow two victories against one defeat.
The latest World Cup odds from top bookmakers:
Potential Portugal lineup: Patricio; Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro; Moutinho, Carvalho, Mario, B. Silva; Guedes, Ronaldo.
Potential Spain lineup: De Gea; Odriozola, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Isco, Thiago, Silva; Costa.