The 2018 FIFA World Cup may be kicking off Thursday, but all eyes are on Friday’s Portugal-Spain. Football fans have been waiting for this match since last December’s draw saw the defending European champs, Portugal, get the short stick when grouped in with Spain. Iran and Morocco won’t be much of a threat, but the top half of this group should provide some of the most entertaining and competitive performances in the tournament.
Let’s take a closer look at where the value’s at in this match.
What to Watch For
Potential on the Draw: Odds — at 3.37 — indicate there’s a 29.7 percent chance of a draw. AccuScore sims, however, have a draw in 28.5 percent of matches, suggesting no value on the draw.
The average score in sims is 1.47 – 1.23, in favor of Spain.
Spain’s Attack: This side thrives on shot passing and careful ball movement. They’re known for maintaining possession, and are able to do so given their midfield is made up of Iniesta, isco, Thiago and Silva.
Familiarity: While many national teams have their players spread out all around the world, Spain does have the majority of players competing with and against each other in La Liga. The team chemistry is off the charts, with 17 players on the squad playing in Spain already.
Lopetegui’s Streak: World Cup rookies like Alvaro Odriozola,Thiago Alcantara, and Marco Asensio will play important roles, but their inexperience shouldn’t be an issue given the overall roster’s makeup. Spain has not lost since manager Julen Lopetegui took over, winning 19 straight matches.
Portugal’s Secret Weapon: Outside of Ronaldo, fans should keep an eye on Portugal’s Goncalo Guedes. He didn’t have much of a chance to shine with PSG, but the transfer to Valencia has been a blessing. He’s completed more dribbles than any other player on Valencia, more take-ons (81), and created 1.4 key passes per match. Guedes is fast, and at just 21 years of age, has the potential to use this tournament as a catapult for his career.
Iago Aspas and David Silva are projected to lead the way for Spain. Aspas averages 2-plus shots overall per sim, 0.85 shots on goal per, and 0.47 goals per sim; he has a 38 percent chance of netting the ball. Silva has a 24 percent chance of scoring, averaging 1.72 shots per sim, 0.55 shots on goal per, and 0.28 goals per sim.
Cristiano Ronaldo — who is projected by AccuScore to have the most goals after the group stage — has close to a 50 percent chance of netting the ball this Friday. He averages over 6 shots overall per sim, close to three shots on goal per, and 0.68 goals per sim.
This is a one-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick. The odds — at 1.96 — indicate there’s about a 51 percent chance Portugal loses by less than a goal in this match. The odds for Portugal to win suggest they have a 21-to-22 percent chance of winning; AccuScore simulations have them winning 30 percent of sims.
Compared to offshore odds, AccuScore simulations suggest Portugal has close to a 10 percent greater chance to win — providing a ton of value on Portugal keeping this match close.