World Cup 2018: Portugal vs Spain - 3 Key Battles That Will Decide the Game
Arguably the best game of the group stages of the WC 2018 takes place on Day 2 itself when Spain take on Portugal at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi.
The Iberian Derby will set the tone for Group B very early in the tournament and could well be the decider to see which team tops the group and avoids Uruguay in the Round of 16.
Club teammates - past and present - will be on opposite sides when the game kicks off and friends will become arch enemies for 90 minutes. With contrasting formations on either side, this could be an end-to-end encounter.
So which are the key battles which could decide the encounter?
#1 Bernardo Silva vs Jordi Alba
Bernardo Silva has not played as much as he would have liked following his move to Manchester City, but he still managed to play a part in 35 games in the Premier League (although he made more appearances from the bench).
Nevertheless, he will be crucial to Portugal's chances. If Ricardo Quaresma isn't in Fernando Santos' lineup (he is prone to changing things around), Silva will start on the right for A Seleção das Quinas.
In Portugal's 4-4-2 formation, Joao Moutinho and William Carvalho will play in central midfield. Therefore, Silva will play on the right wing where he will square up against Spain's left-back Jordi Alba.
Portugal's build-up play is usually out wide with dribblers being key to their attack. Silva, however, will look to cut in and play a little narrower than a regular winger swinging in crosses. This is where Alba will have to be on his toes and probably need Sergio Ramos' help - if he isn't too busy marking Cristiano Ronaldo or Andre Silva.
Alba is an attacking full-back. And if Spain change formations to three-at-the-back, he could be pushed further up. This is when the battle could be at its intriguing best.
Silva is one of Portugal's most creative outlets. If Spain deny him space and time on the ball, Ronaldo will have to look for service from other outlets on the other flank or midfield.