Who? Portugal - Spain
Where? Fisht Stadium, Sochi
When? June 15, 20:00 (CET local time)
For many people, when you say Portugal, you mean one of the best players in the world nowadays, Cristiano Ronaldo. As Portugal are coming also as the Euro 2016 winners, it is common to think that Portugal can make history and win the World Cup for the first time.
Yet, Portugal have a long history of World Cup failures. In 2 out of their last 4 World Cups they failed to reach the knockout stage with some surprising results like the defeats against USA and South Korea in 2002. The same story was also in 1986, while Morocco defeated Portugal in one of its best ever games.
The history is interesting, but Portugal want to look towards their future. They have great chance to start the World Cup with a win, especially after the coaching fiasco in Spain. If they will manage to win this game, Portugal will have a great advantage for their matches.
Nobody could even imagine that one of the World Cup favorites will find themselves without a coach two days before their first match. The decision to sack Julen Lopetegui can put the team in an unstable situation, but the heads of the RFEF, the Spanish football association, think that they find their solution.
Fernando Hierro was a very talented player, as he was part of the Spanish squad in four World Cups, including being the captain in 2002. He also scored five goals in the tournament and until 2010 he was also one of the top Spanish goalscorers in the World Cup. Still, Hierro is almost unexperienced as a coach with only one season as a head coach in Real Oviedo.
If someone still wants to be optimistic with the Hierro appointment, you just need to remember his role – the Spanish team sporting director. He knows the tactics and the philosophy of the team at its best. It worked great in Lopetegui's breakthrough from the U-21 team to the senior team, will it work also for Hierro? We need just to wait and see.