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World Cup: Iberian Derby in Sochi As Ronaldo, Portugal Dare Spain

To many, the World Cup kicks off today, as some of their stars will be taking centre stage.

Probably the biggest game in all the eight groups is on tonight as neighbours Spain and Portugal face off.

Branded the Iberian Derby because of their geographical locations – Spain and Portugal are located South West of Europe occupying the western littoral of the Iberian Peninsula.

This football rivalry is one of the oldest football rivalries at a national stage, with history suggesting that it began on 18 December 1921, when Portugal lost 3-1 to Spain at Madrid in their first ever international friendly game.

It took Portugal over twenty years to pick their first win over the neighbours, coming in 1947, in a 4-1 victory.

The stats show that these sides have met 35 times with the Spaniards taking the lion’s share, winning on 16 occasions, 13 draws and Portugal takes just six victories.

These sides have only met up on at a World cup stage once, in South Africa with David Villa on target as Spain edged the game 1-0 to storm the quarter finals on their way to clinching the trophy, Ricardo Costa was sent off in that game.

It should be noted that both sides are the favourites to come out of group B, which has Iran and Morocco as the other opponents.

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Last shot for Christiano Ronaldo:

Without doubt, this is Christiano Ronaldo’s last chance at the World Cup, and many hope that he is going to give it his very best, of course he should if he wants history books to have him on top.

The Ballon D’or winner scored 15 goals and assisted three as Portugal booked their way to Europe.

But can he replicate that form at the world stage?

If he can, Portugal will become only the fourth nation to win back-to-back European Championship and World Cup tournaments – West Germany (Euro 1972, World Cup 1974), France (World Cup 1998, Euro 2000) and Spain (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010) have done it.

Turmoil in Spain Camp:

The 2010 winners are among the top favourites, Brazil and Germany being the others, at least that’s according to me.

Two days prior to this game, team coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked after Real Madrid had appointed him the club coach.

Reports from the camp later revealed that a section of Spanish players had a hand in his sacking.

Fernando Hierro was then announced as the new captain, he is a former Spain captain and no one will doubt his ability, though he comes at a tough time.

The Squads:

Portugal

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Goztepe), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Rangers), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang), Mari Rui (Napoli), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica)

Midfielders: Adrien Silva (Leicester), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Mario (West Ham), Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco), Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow), William Carvalh (Sporting)

Forwards: Andre Silva (AC Milan), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas)

Spain

Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao).

Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid).

Forwards: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid) Rodrigo Moreno (Valencia), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid).

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