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Spain vs Portugal – Ronaldo and co hoping to crush rivals’ dream

| 28.06.2010

Portugal enter their last 16 tie with Spain hoping to confound their doubters, progress to the quarter-finals and, possibly most importantly, crush their rivals’ World Cup hopes.

A seemingly impenetrable defence, tireless midfield and potent Cristiano Ronaldo-led attack could give Portugal a famous win against their much-lauded opponents, which is temptingly priced at 3/1.

When the teams last faced each other, at Euro 2004, Portugal were 1-0 winners, and a repeat scoreline is 7/1.

Five of the last seven meetings between the sides have been stalemates, and another draw between them in South Africa is priced at 11/5.

Portugal have conceded just three goals in their last 19 matches, and they are 12/5 to keep a clean sheet against Spain.

Pre-tournament favourites Spain are 9/2 contenders to win the World Cup, but they have underwhelmed in South Africa.

A shock opening loss to Switzerland was followed by a 2-0 victory against Honduras and a slightly nervy 2-1 win over Chile.

Portugal, however, have been a picture of solidity, keeping three clean sheets in all their Group G fixtures, including an impressive shut-out against Brazil.

They also demonstrated their attacking power with a 7-0 thrashing of North Korea. Ronaldo orchestrated that win, and he is 11/2 to score first against Spain.

Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain side is packed with goalscoring threats, and chief among them are strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres, who are 7/2 and 5/1 respectively to strike with the game’s first goal.

Spanish success, such as the Euro 2008 triumph, is built on a midfield which gives away possession as scarcely as Emile Heskey scores goals.

Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso are all expert distributors of the ball, though Portugal’s middle men will be out to stifle their talented opponents.

Raul Meireles has been one of Portugal’s star performers in South Africa, and while he and Tiago will be primarily concerned with stopping Spain, they will also carry a threat of their own.

Meireles set Portugal on their way against North Korea, and he is 14/1 to score first against Spain, while Tiago, who chipped in with two against North Korea, is 25/1 to draw first blood for Portugal.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.