Portugal Face a Tough Road at the World Cup

Portugal Face a Tough Road at the World Cup article feature image

The Odds

  • To win the World Cup: +2500
  • To win Group B: +195
  • To advance to Round of 16: -360

Bet to Watch

Portugal Not To Advance from Group Stage +300 

Portugal travel to Russia with the heightened expectations of being European champions, but coach Fernando Santos has looked to avoid any suggestion that his side should be considered among the favorites this summer for good reason. Their surprise success two years ago was one secured by the finest of margins after all, drawing six of their seven matches in 90 minutes, including the final against hosts France.

Until that point, Santos’ men had had a relatively easy ride, but their route to the latter stages at the World Cup begins with the toughest task possible. A group opener with Iberian neighbors Spain will bring back memories of facing eventual champions Germany first up in Rio four years ago — and suffering a humbling defeat that ultimately saw their participation come to a premature end. After Spain, they will face Morocco and Iran, two sides that may not boast the same talent pool but have reached the finals due to impressive defensive organization.

Portugal’s defense, meanwhile, is aging, with the senior centerback trio totaling a combined 108 years. And while there are exciting players in the ranks, Santos is a pragmatic coach who doesn’t get the best from those at his disposal in general. The likes of Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes are ones to watch, that’s for sure, but the omission of Wolves’ midfielder Ruben Neves while Adrien Silva got the call is evidence enough that the coach is willing to overlook form in favor of experience, despite the fact that the latter has played very little club soccer all season.

Cristiano Ronaldo is, of course, a match-winner of the highest caliber but is often frustrated by those around him at the international level, and that could be the overriding emotion for the Euro 2016 victors this time around.

With that in mind, Portugal’s status as strong favorites to progress from Group B is questionable, considering disappointing friendly results against the Netherlands and Tunisia of late, and I’d be looking to oppose Santos’ side at the right price.

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