Spain’s opponents have long since worked out that they’re a far less dangerous proposition when denied any space to make short, rapid passes through the lines, thanks largely to the blueprint laid out by Mourinho’s Inter side in 2010 against the tiki-taka of Barca. Fernando Santos has Portugal employing similar methods, and though Spain can be a little more direct these days much of the old DNA remains. Such an approach stands the Portuguese in better stead against the big guns rather than teams where the onus is on them to break the opposition down, and in fact five of their last six matches with sides we have ranked in the world’s top 10 have ended in stalemates.
This is one of the standout ties the group stages has thrown up, but those expecting to witness an exciting contest are likely to be disappointed with neither of these teams likely to throw men forward, knowing a defeat would almost certainly relegate them to second place in the group’s final standings. Indeed, Portugal have drawn nine of 12 unbeaten fixtures across Euro 2016 and last summer’s Confederations Cup in Russia, and given nine of these also saw fewer than three goals, this contest is unlikely to set pulses racing in a way the neutral viewer might hope for.
Spain may have only conceded three goals in qualifying, but since securing their place in Russia they’ve had some score-draws including with Russia, Germany and Switzerland, and while they thrashed an Argentina side badly missing Messi, they still conceded in that victory. In fact, each of their six stalemates since the Euros have been score draws, with the other three coming against good caliber teams in Italy, England and Colombia. Any side with Ronaldo up top has a chance of nicking one back – making the 1-1 correct score an attractive longshot.