Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spain vs Portugal - Preview


6:30 PM GMT, June 29, 2010
Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

One of the most eagerly-awaited games at the World Cup so far sees Iberian neighbours Portugal and Spain meet in Cape Town.
Two teams full of attacking flair and blessed with technically gifted players, the hope is that this match will produce plenty of entertainment and a glut of goals. Portugal's game with Brazil may not have lived up to expectations, but in truth Brazil are not the gung-ho side they once were while Portugal can nullify the opposition.
The last time the sides met was at Euro 2004, when Portugal won 1-0 on home soil and Spain were sent tumbling out in the group stage. But that was Portugal's only win over Spain since 1981 across seven meetings, so Vicente del Bosque's side will go into the game as strong favourites.

Competition Stats

GoalsDavid Villa 3Tiago 2
AssistsDavid Villa 1Tiago 1
YellowsTiago 1

Spain player to watch: David Villa. Villa, the top scorer at Euro 2008, is in great form at the World Cup. With Fernando Torres leaving his shooting boots back on Merseyside it is looking increasingly likely that Villa will be central to Spain's hopes of success. With a brace against Honduras and another in the 2-1 win over Chile which booked top spot in Group H, Villa is in the hunt for another Golden Boot.
Portugal player to watch: Raul Meireles . With a goal and an assist in the 7-0 drubbing of North Korea, Raul Meireles proved he can contribute in front of goal as well as in the centre of the park. Meireles is one of the first names on the team sheet for coach Carlos Queiroz, a solid and tough performer at the heart of the midfield who will look to break up Spain's attacks.
Key battle: Cristiano Ronaldo v Joan Capdevila. Former FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo has had a good tournament so far, if not spectacular, and ended his long international scoring drought against North Korea. If Portugal are to advance into the quarter-finals, then Ronaldo is going to have to step up to the plate. Joan Capdevila is a steady performer and will have to put in one of his best defensive performances to keep Ronaldo at bay.
Trivia: Portugal's final group game was against Brazil, ranked first in the world, and Spain are ranked second. With Portugal ranked third, they will already have played the only two sides ranked higher.
Stats: Spain are the only team yet to receive a yellow card, while Portugal are the only nation yet to concede a goal.
Odds: Spain (2.00), the draw (3.20) and Portugal (4.33) with Bet365. Spain are 3.25 to be winning at half-time and full-time.
Prediction: Portugal have a reputation as an obdurate and organised side under Queiroz, and while that tactic may work against many teams, an opponent like Spain will pick you off. Spain win.

Spain will come out as winners. I am sure about it.

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