Neither Portugal or Spain are taking the easy option with this friendly, as the Iberian rivals go head-to-head at the Jose Alvalade Stadium on Wednesday night. Both countries are preparing for two Nations League fixtures during this international break, so a positive performance here is essential.
Where and when: Estadio Jose Alvalade – 7 October, kick-off 19:45
Where you can see Portugal vs. Spain: N/A
Last time: These teams last met in their opening group match of the 2018 World Cup, with Cristiano Ronaldo netting a hat-trick in a dramatic 3-3 draw.
Portugal v Spain Predictions and Preview
All eyes will be on Fernando Santos’s team sheet for this game, with the big question whether record goalscorer and appearance maker Ronaldo starts for Portugal. Luis Enrique will certainly have an eye on that particular issue, although the Spain coach has more pressing concerns to deal with.
La Roja didn’t make it past the last 16 at the World Cup two summers ago, and they’re still very much in the midst of a rebuilding project after a number of high-profile retirements. Last month’s 1-1 draw away to Germany in the Nations League was a solid result, following on from their 4-0 demolition of Ukraine a few days before.
Spain’s last Nations League campaign didn’t exactly go to plan, but they’re now unbeaten in 13 matches, winning 10. Most of those have been easy fixtures though, with this arguably their toughest assignment since the last time they played Portugal two years ago, aside from last month’s trip to Germany.
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Over 2.5 goals
Portugal, on the other hand, are going from strength to strength, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva coming to the fore in support of main man Ronaldo. The Selecao have won seven of their last eight matches, losing to Ukraine last October, while they beat Sweden 2-0 and World Cup finalists Croatia 4-1 in the Nations League last month.
There’s no doubt the Portuguese are a different side without Ronaldo in it, but any team would be. If he starts, they’ll look a lot better in the betting, but if not, Spain will be much better value for the win.
Opportunities for fringe players are to be expected within both camps following a short summer break and a hectic start to the new campaign, although we still hope to see the likes of Sergio Ramos win his 173rd cap. A battle between the two countries’ respective captains would certainly be worth a watch, while Wolves winger Adama Traore is hoping to make his debut for the visitors.
One to watch for Portugal: Bruno Fernandes has been a revelation at Manchester United, translating his fine form for Sporting Lisbon to the Premier League. He’s full of goals and assists, and well worth a look to break the deadlock in this game if he starts.
One to watch for Spain: Teen sensation Ansu Fati has started the season like a steam train for Barcelona. He doesn’t turn 18 until the end of this month, but already has two caps and an international goal to his name. He could start this match, and it would be no surprise if he opened the scoring.
Long shot: Friendly encounters often go one of two ways. Either they’re dull, uninteresting affairs with little goalmouth action, or both teams go for it and we’re rewarded with a great spectacle. We hope for the latter in this game, with the odds on another 3-3 draw between these countries potentially looking pretty tasty.