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By Tom Wilkinson

World Cup Odds and Picks - Portugal vs. Spain

The biggest match in Group B takes place early, as Portugal battles Spain on Friday in Sochi in a game that can be seen on FOX. If the game didn’t already have enough drama with Cristiano Ronaldo battling against Sergio Ramos, the Spain team fired their coach on Wednesday, just two days before their opening World Cup match. Will Spain rally around their new coach? 

Let’s look at this match on Friday and World Cup picks.

2018 World Cup - Portugal vs. Spain
Date and Time: Friday, June 15, 2018, 2 p.m. ET
Location: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

World Cup Odds at BetDSI:
Spain +110
Portugal +295
Draw +215
Total 2 over -125
Spain -1/2 -105
Portugal +1/2 -130
The big news heading into this match is Spain firing their coach on Wednesday. Julen Lopetegui was hired by Real Madrid as their manager earlier this week and the Spanish FA didn’t take the news well.  It appears that Lopetegui didn’t tell the Spanish FA until just a few minutes before he announced his new job.  The Spanish FA decided they didn’t like what happened and they sacked Lopetegui and replaced him with the national team’s sporting director Fernando Hierro. The Spain players say the change won’t affect their commitment to play for the national team and that nothing will change. 

Now that we have the coaching change news out of the way, it is time to look at the match. These two teams are both expected to advance out of Group B, so this game will likely decide who wins the group. Neither team should have any trouble with Morocco or Iran in their other two group matches. Portugal has the best player in the game in Ronaldo, but Spain has far more depth.  Portugal will need to find players to support Ronaldo, while Spain has to prove their best players are still capable of winning against top teams. Spain’s backline is definitely old, as Pepe is 35 years old, while Bruno Alves is 36 and Jose Fonte is 34.

Players to Watch
The top two scorers to watch in this match are Ronaldo and Isco. Ronaldo is considered the best player in the world and he is the all-time leading scorer for Portugal, while Isco is one of the Spanish stars. He had five goals in their eight qualifying matches.

Key Stats
Portugal and Spain have played to three draws in their last seven meetings, with Portugal getting two wins and Spain getting two wins. Their only previous World Cup meeting occurred in 2010 and it was Spain winning by a score of 1-0. Spain is unbeaten overall in their last 20 matches going back to June of 2016, as they have 14 wins and six draws.

Portugal vs. Spain Free Picks

I am very surprised that the total on this game is just two. Spain has kept just one clean sheet in their last five matches and they have scored at least two goals in 15 of their last 20 matches. Portugal has scored at least one goal in 10 of their last 12 matches.  Portugal’s defense hasn’t been that great lately, as they gave up three goals against Netherlands and two against Tunisia.

Ronaldo should be good for at least one goal in this one and Spain figures to score at least two. This match has all the look of a high-scoring contest, so I will go over the total.  If you are someone who likes to bet props, there are 43 different props available at BetDSI for this match. I will mention a couple here. 

The total goals scored by Spain are listed at 1.5 and the over is +135. I think that prop has some value, as Spain has been consistently scoring at least two goals a game. The total goals for Portugal is listed at a half a goal. The over is listed at -170, but it is hard to see Portugal getting shut out in this match, so laying the price may be worth considering.

Portugal vs. Spain Over the Total at BetDSI
Portugal vs. Spain Score Prediction: Spain 2, Portugal 1

· Maxtone-Smith: Matchday 5 - Best Bets
· News: 2018 World Cup Betting Results
· Maxtone-Smith: WC Group Best Bets (E-H)
· WC Betting Cheat Sheet
· Maxtone-Smith: World Cup Best Bets
· Mejia: Dinero Talks: World Cup Groups
· Maxtone-Smith: WC Golden Boot - Best Bets
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