Portugal vs Ghana World Cup Odds, Pick, Prediction
Khaled Desouki, Christopher Lee/Getty. Pictured: Ghana and Portugal players in training.
Portugal vs. Ghana Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-110 / -110)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(+120 / -163)|
|Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.|
Thursday sees the final two groups of this World Cup get their tournaments started. Amongst those, Portugal begin their campaign with a tough game against Ghana.
While Brazil, Argentina and France were the favorites before the tournament, the Portuguese found themselves in the tier of teams just behind, though with a squad packed full of world class talent, including an aging Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ghana had a terrible performance in January’s Africa Cup of Nations, but since then they’ve replaced their manager and on paper they do have a relatively good side.
However, after winning just two of their past 12 matches against teams in the top 100 of the FIFA rankings, you do wonder if they can get a result against a team that is amongst the best in Qatar.
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Portugal Facing New Situation
The shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo has always had an impact over his teams both at the club and international level, but as we’ve seen more recently, his failure to accept that time is catching up with him has impacted the situations surrounding him.
He is now a free agent without a club after his contract was terminated with Manchester United, who came to believe he wasn’t a starter. There’s a real chance that the same debate happens throughout this tournament if the six-time Ballon d’Or winner doesn’t start well.
Portugal’s strength is in the creative departments, where they have a number of playmakers who’ll be able to break down the Ghanian backline. Ronaldo’s former teammate at Man Utd, Bruno Fernandes, will likely sit in a midfield three, allowing Ronaldo to be flanked by Man City’s Bernardo Silva, one of the best players in the Premier League, and Milan’s Rafael Leao.
Leao is one of Serie A’s brightest young talents, but the 23-year old has only been capped four times for Portugal, and is yet to score. Despite this, he’s simply too talented to not play here. With six goals and four assists in 14 games for Milan this season, Leao could prove to be pivotal.
The big question for Portugal is how 39-year old Pepe will do in defense. The three who should play alongside him, Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Nuno Mendes are great, but Pepe’s lack of pace is an area which can be exploited.
Ghana Have Some Things Going For Them
This is not a vintage Ghana team but they do have some household names that fans of the Premier League in particular might know, with half of their starting lineup likely to play, or have played, in England at some point.
Speaking of England, the decision of Tariq Lamptey to represent Ghana over England has given them a great attacking right back. He’ll cause a threat to Portugal going forward but he needs to be disciplined defensively.
The Ayew brothers, Jordan and Andre, will both start, with Crystal Palace’s Jordan likely to be play as the longer striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It’ll be his job to try and exploit and potential lack of pace from Portugal’s Pepe.
Thomas Partey, who has been in the form of his life for Arsenal, will be integral for Ghana. It’ll be his role to not only try and stop the supply lines to Portugal’s forwards, but to also spring his team on the counter.
Portugal vs. Ghana Pick
This is a game in which Portugal should win. They have more quality and even with the doubts of Ronaldo’s suitability to play at the highest level, they’ll have enough. However, with the odds being so short we’ll have to find better value elsewhere. Step forward Lamptey.
The Brighton fullback will have one of the toughest asks for this game, supporting his team going forward but also having to defend against Leao and Mendes. If he gets too far forward and Portugal counter them, Lamptey and Ghana are in big trouble. It’s very easy to see that resulting in a rash challenge.
He has a tendency to take risks defensively and has had 11 bookings in the past four seasons in the Premier League, often coming from the bench. Ghana’s right side is an area that Portugal will likely target and at these odds, I’d bet Lamptey to get booked.
The Pick: Tariq Lamptey to be Booked (+187 via bet365)