One of the fiercest FIFA World Cup rivalries, Spain versus Portugal is scheduled for 11.30 pm (IST) today (Friday). For all football fans, the live action in India is available across five channels in six languages and many more digital platforms.
A veritable clash of the titans, this match pits two FIFA World Cup title contenders against each other right from the outset. Although the neighbouring nations are old foes, this will be only their second-ever meeting on football’s greatest stage, after a tense Round-of-16 duel in South Africa from which the Spaniards emerged victorious (1-0). All in all, the two countries have met on 35 occasions, with Spain boasting 18 wins to Portugal’s six. Their recent record has been fairly even, with Portugal claiming two wins and Spain three.
They have not played each other since Spain won 4-2 on penalties, after a goalless 90 minutes, in the Euro 2012 semi-finals La Roja, who had built up significant momentum prior to their arrival in Russia and appear to have found the perfect balance between youth and experience, may therefore have a slight psychological advantage, but it is as yet unclear what impact their decision to sack coach Julen Lopetegui just two days away from their opening match will have.
At the other end of the pitch, the reigning European champions, with Cristiano Ronaldo more determined than ever to make a mark on the tournament, are unlikely to come bearing gifts.
In what is expected to be a shootout for top spot in Group B, many believe Portugal now have the upper hand on Friday evening provided the biggest names in the contemporary world football Cristiano Ronaldo fires. As massive as he’s been throughout his career, major tournaments are a different story. He has scored 12 goals in 34 matches at the Euros and World Cup: wonderful numbers for a mere mortal, but rather out of sync with the rest of his international career, which has seen him notch 69 in 116. And that’s leaving aside his scoring at the club level, which stands at 573 in 763.
It’s not just the volume of goals, either: it’s the opponents. Just one of those 12 goals in major tournaments came against a team who qualified for Russia 2018. That would be Iran and it was a penalty, 12 years ago, at Germany 2006. If Ronaldo shows his club form in the clash against Spain, one can bet their monies on Portugal.
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Portugal and Spain face off at Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, with kick-off scheduled for 11.30 PM IST on Friday, June 15.
WHERE TO WATCH
The match will be televised live on Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 2 HD with English language World feed; Sony Ten 3 and Sony Ten 3 HD with Hindi commentary and on Sony ESPN with regional language Bangla, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam commentaries.
The match is also simulcast live in multiple languages for the Sony LIV subscribers on Sony LIV app and Sony Liv website. The non-subscribers can catch up the match streaming with a five-minute delay. Sony LIV has also launched a ₹ 199, six-month subscription package.
Reliance Jio and Airtel subscribers can also watch the live action on Reliance TV and Airtel TV apps respectively.
DID YOU KNOW
While the fixture has all the makings of a high-octane duel, Spain have a very low statistical chance of having a man sent off against Portugal, because La Roja have only ever once ended a World Cup match with ten men. Miguel Angel Nadal – uncle of tennis champion Rafael – was the Spanish player who incurred the wrath of the referee, in the 25th minute of a 2-2 draw with Korea Republic on 17 June 1994.
Portugal: Rui Patricio; Raphael Guerreiro, Jose Fonte, Pepe, Cedric; Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, William, Bernardo Silva; Cristiano Ronaldo, Goncalo Guedes
Spain: David De Gea; Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Nacho; Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara; Andres Iniesta, Isco, David Silva; Diego Costa