Portugal vs Spain Picks and Predictions: Familiar Foes Going in Different Directions

With the Spaniards entering a point of transition from constant contender to a recalibration period, their series of draws against Portugal will end at four. Portugal will hardly break a sweat, capitalizing on their counterattack to put Spain away.

Last Updated: Sep 26, 2022 10:17 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Soccer
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Everything is on the line Tuesday when Iberian rivals Portugal and Spain square off for the final playoff spot in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals. The Portuguese lead the table in Group 2 of League A, and a result of any kind will see them go through. Meanwhile, Spain’s 2-1 loss to Switzerland on Saturday sees them needing a win to advance.

The last four matches between these two nations have ended in a stalemate, but will that be the case again? Find out in our Portugal vs Spain picks and predictions for Tuesday, September 27. 

Portugal vs Spain odds

Portugal Spain
+130 Moneyline +230
+210 Draw +210
Over 2.5 (+115) Total Under 2.5 (-150)

Odds courtesy of bet365 on September 26, 2022.

Portugal vs Spain picks and predictions

After years of dominance in the international scene, Spain are at a point of transition. Their defense is aging and out of form, with some starters who are not starting for their own club teams. The likes of Cesar Azpilicueta and Jordi Alba have shown their limitations, and there aren’t a whole lot of promising options waiting in the wings.

At the other end of the pitch, things simply aren’t going according to plan in the attack. Their primary striking option, Gerard Moreno, is out with injury and they lack a focal point in the box without him. In their defeat over the weekend to Switzerland, the Spanish side played without a recognized striker and failed to register a single shot on target in the first half despite having nearly three-fourths of possession. 

There aren’t a whole lot of options that Spanish manager Luis Enrique can turn to. With winger Ansu Fati still coming back from injury, Sociedad winger Mikel Oyarzabal out with a knee injury, and Leipzig attacker Dani Olmo on the shelf, they are missing the major pieces that enabled them to make a run in last summer’s European Championships.

Portugal don't have any of those problems at the moment. Their attack is spearheaded by Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, and AC Milan winger Rafael Leao, last season’s player of the year in Serie A. In the midfield, they have the Manchester duo of Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes pulling the strings. It is important to note that Ronaldo was busted open in the win over the Czech Republic and could come off the bench in this fixture.

As if that’s not enough, fellow Mancunians Joao Cancelo and Diogo Dalot are now bombing down the wings in support. Their 4-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic at the weekend saw the latter score the opening goal and later the third goal, putting in a stellar Man of the Match performance. 

Portugal are flying high at the moment, having won three of their last four matches in the Nations League. More importantly, they’ve not conceded a single goal in those victories. In addition, Portugal hasn’t conceded a single goal in their last three matches on home soil. 

Spain’s last in-regulation victory over Portugal in any competition came in the 2010 World Cup, and their last win of any kind came a decade ago via penalty shootout in the 2012 European Championship. Furthermore, their last win on Portuguese soil came 19 years ago — Ronaldo’s first year with the national team.

Spain’s attacking woes will be their downfall on Tuesday, as Portugal will allow them to have possession of the ball and hit them on the counterattack. Bank on the Portuguese pace to be too much for their Iberian neighbors as they win the match, and deny their rivals a place in the Nations League semi-finals.

My best bet: Portugal moneyline (+130 at bet365)

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Portugal vs Spain side analysis

We’ve obviously broken down the moneyline for the best bet, but there is some other important analysis to keep in mind. Portugal will see the return of Cancelo, who missed the match against the Czech Republic via suspension, which adds quality at both ends of the pitch. 

The loss to the Swiss ended a run of eight unbeaten for the Spanish side in all competitions. Meanwhile, Portugal have lost just once in their last seven matches — also to the Swiss — winning five in that span. To go a step further, the Portuguese have won seven of their nine Nations League matches played on home soil.

The last four meetings have been draws, including three under Enrique. Their 1-1 draw in Spain back in June saw a 25th-minute goal from Alvaro Morata give Spain the lead before a late equalizer from Ricardo Horta brought a share of the spoils. 

Given the fact that a draw does them no good, Spain will be going all-out to win this match, which is why the books are pricing a draw as the least-likely outcome. The Spaniards typically dominate possession, buoyed by their trio of Barcelona midfielders. This suits Portugal's playing style. They tend to struggle to break teams down that park the bus but are lethal on the break where they can utilize their pace.

Portugal vs Spain Over/Under analysis

Despite the open nature this match will likely present, the books are expecting a low-scoring affair. This is likely a product of Spain’s attacking woes as well as the historical data. Each of the last three meetings between these sides have featured two or fewer goals, with the 1-1 draw in June being the only match of those three to see any scoring at all. In fact, three of the last five meetings between the sides have ended in scoreless draws.

Portugal’s win over the Czech Republic was just the second match in their last six to see three or more goals scored. They’ve also allowed just two goals in the competition so far, the fewest of any side in League A. As for Spain, their 2-1 loss on Saturday was the fourth match to see three or more scored in their last seven outings. 

If this were just a regular match, the Under would be the best bet. However, Spain's urgency to find a victory will leave them exposed, especially later in the match. This could provide a solid profit for bettors were the match to open up with Spain searching for a winner in the second half.

Portugal vs Spain game info

Location: Estadio Municipal de Braga, Braga, Portugal
Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
TV: fuboTV

Portugal vs Spain key injuries

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo F (Questionable).
Spain: Gerard Moreno F (Out), Mikel Oyarzabal M (Out), Dani Olmo M (Out).

Portugal vs Spain weather

The weather in Braga will be perfect for a match on Tuesday night. Temperatures will be in the mid-60s at kickoff and conditions will remain dry throughout the match.

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