By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 15th June 2018
European Champions Portugal are 3/1 underdogs for their World Cup Group B opener against Spain, despite the controversy that has bedevilled the La Roja camp in the week leading up to the clash.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, the story goes like this:
Real Madrid announce Spain boss Julen Lopetegui will manage them next term before the tournament then the nation’s FA sack Loptegui on the eve of the tournament despite the players’ protestations.
Hastily-promoted assistant Fernando Hierro has the same superb squad at his disposal of course, but this isn’t the Barcelona-tiki-taka-heyday edition and a pragmatic Portuguese side surely smell blood.
Read on for our selections in the Portugal v Spain match betting, correct score and first goalscorer markets, as well as a left-field selection that’ll have you rubbing eyes in disbelief.
Match Betting – Portugal draw no bet @ 13/8
As alluring as the 3/1 straight win wager on the Seleccao looks, the defensive smarts of their opponents, who shipped just three in ten qualifying matches, weigh on the mind.
Nonetheless, Spain’s pre-tournament friendly form is nearly as erratic as Portugal’s, with a 3-3 draw with Russia and a scraped 1-0 success against Tunisia both hinting at fallibility against better foes.
With both sides inconsistent in their recent outings, but one having displayed the mentality to win a tournament (in which they were far from the best team) two years back and the other having sacked their coach days ago, it’s worth chancing the underdog, with money back if they draw.
Correct Score –Portugal 1-0 @ 9/1
These sides shipped a combined seven goals in 20 qualifiers en route to Russia, so those demanding fireworks are advised to save their matches for Saudi Arabia’s next outing.
Fernando Santos’ men took their last three competitive outings by scores of 1-0, 2-0 and 2-0.
Against opposition of superior quality, a still more slender margin of success seems most likely, inflicting Spain’s first defeat since they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Italy, in the process.
First Goalscorer – Andre Silva @ 8/1
And only goalscorer for that matter. If Portugal’s final two pre-matches are to be believed, Goncalo Guedes is likely to start ahead of AC Milan man Silva. Despite this, Guedes is longer in the betting at 17/2.
Silva has scored in each of his last three competitive internationals and given this match is expected to be a tight one, he could easily pop up from the bench to break Spanish hearts. If he doesn’t get on, you get your money back.
Leftfield selection – Each team over four corners @ 13/8
Portugal averaged more than six corners a game over their last five qualifiers, while Spain averaged just shy of eight in their commensurate fixtures.