Expect the Spain-Portugal World Cup Match to Be Low Scoring

Expect the Spain-Portugal World Cup Match to Be Low Scoring article feature image

Spain vs. Portugal, 2 p.m. ET, FOX

  • Spain: +106
  • Portugal: +295
  • Draw: +232

Bet to Watch

Under 2, 2.5 goals -117 (Bookmaker)*

In the first game of the World Cup, fans were treated to a goal party as Russia demolished Saudi Arabia, 5-0. It was a bit of a dud in terms of entertainment value, but luckily the schedule-makers did us all a favor on Day 2, as Iberian rivals Portugal and Spain are set to meet at 2 p.m. ET at Fisht Stadium in Sochi.

Spain come into the match as favorites, but La Furia Roja sacked their manager, Julen Lopetegui, on Wednesday after it was made public that he would take over Real Madrid at the tournament’s end. Fernando Hierro replaces Lopetegui and now has to deal with Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo in his debut.

Ronaldo and Portugal are the defending European champions and conceded just a single goal during the knockout rounds en route to the title. When bettors see Ronaldo vs. Spain, they automatically expect a high-powered matchup with tons of goals, but there’s reason to believe that won’t be the case.

Portugal won Euro 2016 thanks to a strong defensive effort — in addition to a lot of luck — and rely on keeping their shape and hitting teams on the counterattack. They don’t generate tons of chances.

Under Lopetegui, Spain did not lose a single game (14-0-6), and while their odds dipped a bit after the shock announcement, there’s so much quality in this side that if any team can handle something like such a shakeup on the eve of the tournament, it’s La Furia Roja.

I would expect Spain to continue to play the beautiful brand of football that they are known for with the likes of David Silva, Isco and Andres Iniesta pulling the strings. Spain will look to stay on the ball and severely limit Portugal’s chances while in turn trying to generate elite scoring chances of their own through their intricate passing combinations.

Even though Spain will have the lion’s share of the ball, Portugal’s compact, pragmatic defense could frustrate them. Look for Spain to dominate the ball, but don’t expect that possession to turn into a scoring frenzy. In fact, I expect this game to be low scoring — albeit entertaining — and think there’s a distinct chance that it can end 0-0. If you’re feeling frisky, taking the “exact score” at +750 on Bovada is good value.

*This is called an Asian handicap, which means half your bet is placed on Under 2 and the other half of your bet is placed on Under 2.5.

More World Cup Betting Coverage