It’s a game that could have huge ramifications as we edge closer to the culmination of this Nations League tournament. Hosts Portugal take on neighbours Spain in an Ibererian derby, where a point will see the home side finish top of their group and secure them a place in the Nations League semi-final.
Spain will be kicking themselves that they are not in this position. A 2-1 home defeat to Switzerland means that Luis Enrique’s side may have just blown their best chance of progressing to the final four, with only a win in Braga on Tuesday night enough to secure them this spot ahead of Qatar 2022. Portugal meanwhile thrashed Czech Republic in Prague 4-0, in what will be a massive confidence booster heading into this clash, and even better with the World Cup less than two months away!
Portugal v Spain Bet Builder Tips
Portugal Double Chance
As previously mentioned, a point will see Portugal top the group, so you have to expect them to get over the line against a Spain team where the term ‘in transition’, is used far too often. The hosts are beating them in almost every metric on paper in this competition so far, having scored almost twice as many as the visitors (11) and conceded less than half of Enrique’s side (2). The reverse fixture saw it finish 1 apiece. Spain may have dominated possession and edged the xG that day (1.34-1.06), but they are coming up against a Portugal side who are really peaking at the right time.
The home side are averaging 2.2 goals per game scored at home this campaign, and the burden is not falling solely at the feet of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. Right back Diogo Dalot netted twice against the Czech Republic in what has been arguably his best season to date after establishing himself a starter at Manchester United under Erik ten Hag. Bruno Fernandes also chipped in with a goal and looks to be getting back to his best, and when you look at the names trickled across this Portuguese team sheet, it’s shocking that many are not talking about them as possible winners of Qatar 2022. Dias, Cancelo, Silva, Jota are all household names, Palhinha and Neves are both flourishing for Fulham and Wolves respectively, and Rafael Leao has proven to be maybe the most electrifying player in Serie A. Spain are struggling for a goalscoring outlet, with the tepid Alvaro Morata looking to be the only viable striking outlet for them heading to the World Cup. It would take a disaster for Portugal not to qualify here, and I’m backing them to not lose on Tuesday night.
Rafael Leao to have 2+ Shots
Last season’s Serie A MVP will no doubt find himself at the heart of some serious transfer speculation in the coming seasons. The former Lille man is already attracting attention from a litany of clubs, with Milan Technical Director Paulo Maldini stating “Then there will be a negotiation, but we know that strong players must be paid their worth. If the team continues to grow, Leao will have everything to compete to the fullest, but of course, there is no non-transferable [player] for all the teams in the world.”
The attention is for good reason, the winger already has three Serie A goals in six games, after 11 goals and eight assists in the league last season. A large reason for this has been his high volume of shots per game. The former Sporting winger is averaging 3.89 across all competitions this season, and even managed three the last time these two nations met (with one being on target). He’ll no doubt be up against Dani Carvajal who will line out in Spanish colours, and seems to be struggling when on duty with Enrique’s Spanish side, averaging 1.36 fouls per game in his Nations League careers. Expect Leao to stretch the multiple time Champions League winner, and to get at least two shots off on Tuesday night.
Joao Palhinha to be Shown a Card
Joao Palhinha has seriously impressed since signing for Fulham this summer for £20 million. If they were going to survive another return to the Premier League, they were going to need someone to replace Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa in the heart of midfield to replicate his work. The Cameroonian now plies his trade with Napoli, and in his one season in the Premier League did all he could to keep Fulham up, but to no avail. Palhinha now seems to have arrived at a good time in West London. The Cottagers are sitting confidently in 6th, and the Portuguese international has been key to this under the tutelage of fellow countryman Marco Silva. Not only does he rank highest amongst yellow cards in the Premier League (5), but also averages more tackles per 90 than any other player in England’s top flight (32).
We’ve established that Palhinha is the antithesis of ‘getting stuck in’, when you consider he’s up against a player in Pedri who is fouled 1.32 times in La Liga this season, and has to deal with a referee in Davide Orasto who is dishing out almost four cards per game in the league this season (3.5), I think Paddy Power have Palhinha generously for a booking against Spain.
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Portugal predicted XI (4-3-3): Costa; Dalot, Dias, Pereira, Cancelo; Neves, Palhinha, Fernandes; B. Silva, Ronaldo, Leao
Spain predicted XI (4-3-3): Simon; Carvajal, Garcia, Torres, Alba; Koke, Rodri, Pedri; Sarabia, Morata, Torres
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch Portugal v Spain in the Nations League?
📅 When is Portugal v Spain? / Tuesday, 27th September 2022, 7:45PM
🏟 Where is Portugal v Spain? / Estadio Municipal de Braga (Braga)
📺 What TV channel is Portugal v Spain on? / BoxNation
🟨 …And who is the referee for Portugal v Spain? / D. Orsato 🇮🇹