Football News

WORLD CUP 2018: Key Battles, Portugal Vs Spain

Written By Narayan R | Mumbai | Published:

Hack:

  • Both the teams have enjoyed success in the European competition, with Spain victorious in 2008 and 2012 UEFA Euro, and Portugal winning it in 2016
  • If Portugal are to keep Spain's midfield quiet, then William needs to keep Thiago¬†under the scanner

This is the biggest game in the World Cup 2018 group stage round by far. And that it comes right at the start of the tournament makes it even more interesting. The fixture is none other than PORTUGAL vs SPAIN.

Both the teams have enjoyed success in the European competition, with Spain victorious in 2008 and 2012 UEFA Euro, and Portugal winning it in 2016.

Spain's camp is in turmoil, following the dismissal of head coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before the match. Sporting director Fernando Hierro was appointed in-charge of the team for the tournament, but the mental damage was already done.

Portugal are very much same from their victorious Euro campaign, but the challenge is very different this time around. Skipper and star man Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer the same force he was back in 2016, and the team's records in friendlies haven't been extraordinary.

READ: WORLD CUP 2018: Portugal Vs Spain, Match 4, LIVE

And ahead of the key game, we look at the key battles which would decide the result.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sergio Ramos: Friends at the club level, foe at international. Ronaldo is longer the flying winger he was in his early days. Instead, he relies on his runs and attacking instinct in the penalty box to score goals. This will put him directly up against Ramos. The Spanish skipper is very aggressive, but also prone to making mistakes. He is a hot-head, and Ronaldo will relish taking him on. A mouth-watering contest between two best friends at club level.

Bernardo Silva vs Jordi Alba: Bernardo Silva has made a name for himself in the world football following brilliant displays for AS Monaco and Manchester City. The winger is a left-foot player, but predominantly plays on the right side. His passing range and ability to score stunners will definitely be a test for Spanish defence. And Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba will be charged to keep him quiet. Alba is fantastic going forward, but can get exposed in defense. He will have to be at his absolute best to make sure Silva doesn't get time on the ball.

William Carvalho vs Thiago: William may not be the biggest name in the Portugese squad, but he will be tasked with shielding his defence. The holding midfielder is strong and powerful, and has the ability to ping passes. But his primary task against Spain will be to keep Thiago quiet. The Bayern Munich midfielder has become the pass master in the Spain squad, and has seamlessly slotted in the role of Xavi. His passing and link up play is sensational. If Portugal are to keep Spain's midfield quiet, then William needs to keep Thiago under the scanner.

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