It is indeed a big day for fans of FIFA as Portugal gears up to play against Spain today. The wait is over for the football fan to witness the most amazing match of the FIFA World Cup 2018: Portugal VS Spain.
Spain and Portugal will face each other on Friday and it is the first high-prolific encounter of FIFA World Cup 2018, which will take place at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the team from the front, while Spain will want to start their campaign on a winning note.
However, off-field happenings have kept the two groups in the news. While Spain's FIFA World Cup grounding was tossed into a disturbance on Wednesday as Real Madrid-bound mentor Julen Lopetegui was terminated on the eve of the tournament, only two days before the opening game in Russia. Portuguese, too , have been hit by some chaos in the squad. Four of Fernando Santos' squad have scratched off their Sporting Lisbon contracts following a muddled season.
Spain has an array of talent at their disposal with an amalgamation of young and experienced player. Cristiano Ronaldo will unleash his latest and probably last attempt to crown his career with a World cup medal when European champions Portugal will take on their neighbors Spain. One major honor is still missing from his resume.
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Without any doubts, Portugal is the favorite to lift the Trophy this year.
KEY BATTLES TO WATCH OUT FOR
Ronaldo versus Ramos
Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo and Spanish captain Sergio Ramos will come into close encounter for 90 minutes - with Real Madrid's two alpha-guys would undoubtedly want to end up as the winner.
Ronaldo has never scored a goal in four encounters against La Roja, and suffered two of his largest career defeats, at the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012, against the nation where he plays his club football.
Ramos is probably not going to shackle his trademark physical approach, even against his long-time partner. What's more, if he and Gerard Pique can keep Portugal's mascot calm, Spain will certainly have an upper hand.
William/Moutinho vs. Iniesta/Isco
Spain has their swagger back. The group that commanded international football from a span of 2008-12 with a particular style is again zapping aside all-comers. Their capacity to rule possession and sickle through the center of the opposition defense with multifaceted passing is at the foundation of their success.
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Alongside this, there is a superb news for Portugal that William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho who defend Portugal's midfielder have hit a rich vein of form and framed an incredible partnership in the pre-competition friendly matches. If the twosome can constrain the impact of Andres Iniesta and Isco, Portugal has every possibility of getting a positive outcome.
KNOW YOUR TEAMS
Captain of the team: Cristiano Ronaldo
Team Manager: Fernando Santos
How they qualified
After getting defeated in the opening round of UEFA World Cup Qualification Group B against Switzerland in Basel, Portugal pulled their socks tight and won all their remaining matches to top the group and qualify directly for Russia. After that rare failure in the opening match, which Ronaldo missed because of injury, Portugal was able to score 32 goals and only conceded two goals in the next nine matches. Ronaldo and Andre Silva struck up a brilliant coordination and they together have scored 24 goals.
Biggest Quality & Strengths
Santos is one big strength as since he took control in September 2014, the team won 20 matches and losing just a single of 24 competitive matches under the veteran mentor. Portugal's players have completely adopted the mantra of making themselves hard to beat, with the Euro 2016 triumph reinforcing their faith in this approach and bracing the recently discovered winning mindset. The furious rivalry for places among a talented generation has not affected an impressive togetherness inside the squad.
A dependence on veteran players could be a reason of their failure. Portugal has lost just two competitive matches since the 2014 World Cup, the only two times Ronaldo was absent because of injury. At the core of barrier, 35-year-old Pepe is seemingly essential for Portugal's odds of going far, the form and fitness of the center back is critical, particularly as he will probably be partnered by either Bruno Alves (36) or Jose Fonte (34), both of whose better days are behind them.
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As specified over, Portugal's traditional free-haggling and flamboyant style of play have been supplanted by a more defense inclined approach, which means creativity is hard to come by. Ricardo Quaresma (34) has provided more than twofold the quantity of help than some other Portugal player in the previous four years and is probably going to be critical to opening the opposition.
Do we need to tell! Without any doubt, Portugal's greatest player ever is the flamboyant Cristiano Ronaldo. After a poor start in 2017-18, critics were covering up to write the articles on his extraordinary career. But since then, the Real Madrid superstar has been unstoppable. He has beaten all records for Portugal's national team (148 caps, 81 goals, and counting) but he is always hungry as ever to further polish his legacy.
Captain of the team: Sergio Ramos
Team manager: Julen Lopetegui
Nickname: La Roja
How they Qualified
Spain cruised through qualifying in Europe's Group G, winning nine and drawing one of the 10 matches they played, while scoring 36 goals and yielding only three.
Lopetegui additionally utilized the matches to mix new players, including Real Madrid's Marco Asensio and Atletico, Madrid's Saul Niguez, with the core experience he acquired two years prior from predecessor Vicente Del Bosque.
Biggest Quality & Strengths:
Spain's greatest quality all through their 2008-12 glory years was a possession-based style that saw them ready to overwhelm games and worldwide competitions in a way never observed before. Lopetegui has accepted that style to current conditions, reestablishing their force at pressing to recover the ball immediately when they lose it, however his team’s chance of success in Russia will, in any case, be dictated by whether they can again use possession to wear out rivals.
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Veteran midfielders Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and David Silva will be vital to this approach once again, and their encounters (both positive and negative) in past tournaments should also be extremely valuable in Russia.
Spain's biggest concern through more recent disappointment has been a failure to transform all that predominance of region and possession into goals. The continuous absence of an affirmed first-decision center forward remains their greatest issue in front of the tournament. Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata, Rodrigo Moreno and Iago Aspas have all played as the team’s reference point in attack, however, all have doubts over their appropriateness for the role.
Andres Iniesta remains the pioneer in the Spain midfield, with Lopetegui trusting in him as the successor to previous colleague Xavi Hernandez as the team’s primary string-puller. The winning goal scorer at the 2010 competition, Iniesta's capacity to control the pace and shape of a game was seen again as his club Barcelona won the 2018 Copa del Rey final in April.
This is also certain to be a last international competition for "Wear Andres," who will probably not play from very next minute, but rather whose impact on and off the pitch will still be tremendous.
PREDICTION OF THE DAY
Who do you think will end this day on a winning note? Well, our predictors think that the Winner today will be PORTUGAL.
Astrologer’s Prediction On Winner of this FIFA world 2018 Match: Spain