Probably the biggest matchup in the first week of the World Cup is the clash between Spain and Portugal on June 15th. Both teams consist of a lot of depth and world-class talent, however, injuries are a concern for both teams.
Pretty much all of Spain’s players are fairly healthy, but injuries are still a concern for Spain and it all starts with Dani Carvajal. Carvajal has recently been on the shelf with a hamstring injury he suffered in May during the Champions League Finals against Liverpool. It seemed like his chances of playing in the World Cup were over as he was seen walking off the pitch with his hands covering his face in agony. However, he has recently been added to the final roster and will make an appearance, but Carvajal’s injury risk is very high.
Spain’s defense, even without Carvajal is very good as they have a lot of depth there. Sergio Ramos is healthy as of now but does have a long history of leg injuries and his injury risk is elevated going into the tournament. Jordi Alba is another key defensive player for Spain that has had a fair amount of leg related injuries in the past but hasn’t had an injury since 2017. Andres Iniesta is Spain’s biggest injury concern on their midfield. The 34-year-old, who is playing in his final World Cup, has a long history of leg injuries and has an elevated injury risk.
Diego Costa is Spain’s most important player in their attack and is also coming off of a hamstring injury he sustained back in April and has a history of hamstring injuries, so it is important for Spain that he stays healthy. Good news for Spain is that their star goalkeeper David de Gea is healthy and has been in excellent form as of late, which could give Portugal some problems.
For Portugal, they rely heavily on their veterans. They do have a lot of talent and key players, but Portugal has 2 players that are the most important part of the team. It all starts with Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is arguably the best player in the world and is Portugal’s most important player by a long-shot. Ronaldo is healthy as of now but has had quite the history of injuries over the years.
Ronaldo is just coming off a mild ankle sprain in which he sustained in May, but only missed 1 week and he has had numerous leg injuries over the span of years, with his worst injury coming in 2016, when he tore a collateral ligament in his left leg in European Cup Final against France and missed 2 months because of that injury. Portugal have played in 24 matches since 2014 and they’ve only lost 2 matches, but both of those matches were without Ronaldo, so Portugal need for Ronaldo to stay healthy so that he can do what he does best.
Portugal’s second key player is Pepe. Pepe is a great defender and is playing in his final World Cup. However, like Ronaldo, injuries have plagued him. Pepe does have a long history of injuries as his aggressive style can get him into injury trouble. Pepe has a long history of hamstring injuries including one that he sustained in April of this year, in which he missed 3 weeks.
Without these two players, Portugal’s chances of winning this match are drained and their World Cup dream could be in Jeopardy.
Overall, this game should be a dogfight and both teams have a bunch of talent, but when it comes down to the bitter end, Spain should prevail. Spain has more talent than Portugal and they have a lower risk of injury than Portugal. This match should be exciting and will make for a great start to the World Cup.