By 90Min
June 14, 2018

Portugal and Spain contest one of the most highly anticipated World Cup group games this year when they meet at the Fisht Olympic Stadium on Friday.

The game has had a huge build up off the pitch, with the recent news that the Spanish Football Federation dismissed manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament in Russia.

There is also plenty to look forward to on the pitch, with the attacking flair of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Silva and Marco Asensio on show.

The match will be the second tie in Group B, with Morocco facing Iran earlier in the day. It could be the key match in the group, with Portugal and Spain both set to be competing for the top spot.


Recent Form

(Recorded last six games)

Portugal: DWLDDW

Portugal have had mixed results in their friendlies leading up to this match. After a disappointing 2-2 draw against Tunisia at the end of May, they recorded a respectable 0-0 draw against Belgium before most recently seeing off Algeria with a comfortable 3-0 victory

Spain: WDDWDW

With all the drama off the pitch in recent days, Spain have had a comfortable preparation for the World Cup on the pitch. They recently secured a slightly disappointing but still respectable 1-1 draw with Switzerland, before picking up a 1-0 win against Tunisia most recently.

Most fans would expect Spain to beat those two teams quite comfortably, but it's hard to read into pre-World Cup friendlies - as the matches could have been used for tactical experimentation or as a physical workout for the players.


Classic Encounter

The two teams met in a tense encounter in the semi-finals of Euro 2012.

Spain had early chances, with Alvaro Arbeloa and Andres Iniesta missing the target, while Cristiano Ronaldo went agonisingly close for Portugal in the second half.

The game was full of chances, but was also a cagey affair. The game sprung to life in the last ten minutes, with Portugal missing two free kicks and their goalkeeper producing a fine 95th minute save from Andres Iniesta.

Ultimately, the match went to penalties and Spain ran out 4-2 victors in the shootout. Iniesta, Pique, Ramos and Fabregas converted their penalties to send the Spaniards through to the final.


Team News

The biggest team news for Spain is from the touchline, with the Spanish Football Federation (RSFF) recently dismissing Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament after the former Spanish boss joined Real Madrid without the contest of the RSFF.

Lopetegui was unbeaten in 20 international games in charge of the national team, so his new replacement Fernando Hierro has big shoes to fill with a very short amount of time to prepare his squad for the match.

Meanwhile, on the pitch, Spain's only potential injury doubt is Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal, who limped off injured in the Champions League final against Liverpool at the end of May.

There is less drama leading up to this game for Portugal, which may work out in their favour on the pitch. Portugal manager Fernando Santos has a fully fit squad to chose from ahead of this tie, with his strike partnership of Cristiano Ronaldo and André Silva set to be the biggest threat for his side.


Predicted Teams

Portugal: Patricio; Soares, Pepe, Fernandes, Guerreiro; B.Silva, Carvalho, Joao Mario, Martins; Ronaldo, Silva.


Spain: De Gea; Odriozola, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Alcantara, Busquets, Iniesta; Isco, Costa, Silva.


Prediction 

The chaos taking place off the pitch could have a negative impact on Spain, who may not be able to have their full focus on the task in hand. Also, Hierro may have different ideas to Lopetegui, so it could be a confusing time for the Spaniards.

PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/GettyImages

This is something Portugal should be able to take advantage of, with a solid midfield base and a very dangerous strike partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo and André Silva leading the line.

Prediction: Portugal 2-1 Spain

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