Two European heavyweights meet each other in the second day of FIFA World Cup, as Spain takes on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
The 21st edition of the world cup marked off with a fiery start as host nation Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0 to lead the Group A. The fixtures for Group B kick off today, and the fans are in for a treat as Spain meets Portugal.
Spain have gone through a disturbing last 48 hours, with their manager Julen Lopetegui removed a day before the world cup due to his failure in handling the Real Madrid situation efficiently. Fernando Hierro has replaced Lopetegui as the new manager for the world cup.
Portugal, meanwhile, enter the world cup with a perfectly fit squad, and will be raring to exploit the present condition in which Spain finds itself at the moment.
theSportsRush takes a look at 3 key player battles which could decide the match today.
Isco vs Cedric Soares
The Real Madrid ace has been a revelation for Spain’s national football team ever since the 2014 world cup. In the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Isco scored 5 goals for Spain, and this year, he has already registered 3 goals in two games for the national side.
Under Julen Lopetegui, Isco has usually played on the left wing, or as a central attacking midfielder, and has been impressive for Spain. With Hierro arriving at the helm of the national side hardly two days before their first game, the team combination is expected to remain same. In such a scenario, Isco will look to exploit Portugal’s right-back Cedric Soares.
The Southampton defender has been impressive for the English club this season, and like Isco, has been a first-team regular for Portugal since the previous world cup. Soares is quick and is good on the ball, marks his man well and is an excellent tackler. The Portuguese is also a regular threat moving forward.
Jordi Alba vs Bernardo Silva
Jordi Alba has been a first-team regular with FC Barcelona throughout the season and played a key role in their La Liga title success this season. Alba is an efficient leftback with a fiery pace, which helps him on the offence as well. However, he meets Portugal’s Bernardo Silva, who is as quick and possesses excellent passing and crossing abilities.
Silva has been a revelation for Manchester City this season, appearing in 53 matches for the Blues. He played in 35 Premier Leagues as Man City became the first side to register 100 points in a Premier League season.
Both the players have been first team regulars for their respective nations and their encounter will be an exciting one.
Sergio Ramos vs Cristiano Ronaldo
Perhaps the biggest player battle in this match will be between two Real Madrid superstars, who also happen to be captaining their nations in this world cup. Real Madrid and Spain’s veteran defender Sergio Ramos will attempt to stop the free-flowing and highly skilful gameplay of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has had a brilliant season yet again with Real Madrid, especially in the Champions League where he scored 15 goals in 13 appearances. Sergio Ramos, on the other hand, is a player for big occasions and he will out on the field to resist his Real Madrid teammate.
Expect a lot of tussle on the field tonight as both the players will be out to stamp their authority.