The World Cup is officially underway and the watching world were treated to a goal fest in the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Sadly for Saudi Arabia, the goal scoring was one-sided as Russia ran riot at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. On Friday evening the biggest game of the World Cup so far gets underway when Portugal take on Spain at the Fisht Olympic Stadium. With some big Premier League names on show, we take a look at who will have a starring role in this Group B clash.
Spain have become a team renowned for having a miserly defense and a large part of that is down to Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. The Spanish shot-stopper is widely considered the best goalkeeper in the world and the Portuguese will have a tough time getting past the adopted Manc.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 13, 2018
De Gea’s domestic rival David Silva is likely to be the creative architect for Spain as the little magician does his best to unlock the Portuguese defence. The Manchester City playmaker will be licking his lips at the chance of attacking an ageing Portuguese defence where the combined age of the three centre-backs, Pepe, Bruno Alves and Jose Fonte is 105.
The turmoil surrounding the Spanish side at the moment may well have levelled the playing field against a Portuguese side that is past its sell-by date. Sacking manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament has left Spain vulnerable and Portugal will smell blood.
The Manchester theme in this match carries on in the Portuguese side as well, as City’s Bernardo Silva will look to cause the Spanish trouble on the break. Silva will be tasked with finding Ronaldo on the counter and Spain could well be left exposed if they don’t shut down this threat.
Fernando Hierro has stepped in to take charge of Spain and his first match in charge could see goals in an end to end encounter. William Hill have made Ronaldo and Diego Costa the favourites to open the scoring for their teams tonight at 4/1 and 7/2 respectively. The Premier League old boys Ronaldo and Costa will be a threat throughout and, given an inch, will punish any mistakes.
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) June 15, 2018
Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta is likely to start on the bench but could feature should Spain want to see out the game with a slender advantage late on. Spain’s strength in depth is proved by the fact the Chelsea defender can only provide back up during a fixture of this magnitude. Recently-fired boss Julen Lopetegui wasn’t a huge fan of the defender but Hierro may well use him more.
The Premier League will be represented by players both past and present tonight and all the signs point towards one of the league’s stars having the deciding impact. It’s a huge game for both teams in the effort to finish top of the group and a loss may even spell the beginning of the end for either Spain or Portugal’s chances of winning the 2018 Fifa World Cup.