Goal.com's editor Luis Mira takes a look at why the Seleccao may beat La Furia Roja...Spain lock horns with Portugal in one of the most entertaining matches of the 2010 World Cup Round of 16. Both countries are longtime rivals, and their feelings towards one another also extend to a football pitch.
At Euro 2004, Portugal sent Spain out of the tournament with a 1-0 victory, and history could repeat itself on Tuesday at the Cape Town Stadium. Castrol Football's 2010 FIFA World Cup Success Predictor rates Portugal's chances of reaching the quarter-finals at just 37,3%, but can they defy the odds and move past La Furia Roja, the current Euro holders?
Below you can find five reasons why the Seleccao may not be written off for tonight's encounter with Spain:
1. The Cristiano Ronaldo factor
The 2010 World Cup provides an individual battle of its own, as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi are vying for the title of best player on the planet. But in this match, only one of them will be present.
With the current second best player in the world, Portugal have in Ronaldo a considerable boost when it comes to individual quality, and the 25-year-old is well acquainted with the demands of football in Spain as he currently plies his trade at Santiago Bernabeu.
2. Great Wall of Portugal
Portugal have not conceded a single goal in the competition so far, which earns them the title of best defence in South Africa. After three World Cup matches, Eduardo has yet to pick up the ball at the back of his net, and with Spain having already conceded goals on two occasions, the Seleccao's defensive quality may prove the difference.
For a team who survived the so-called Group of Death and held strong favourites Brazil and African heavyweights Cote d' Ivoire to draws, confidence is high within the Seleccao's ranks. Spain barely survived their group, which contained weaker sides on paper, so Portugal, whose main goal was reaching the knock-out stages, will enter the game knowing that everything they get from here is a plus.
4. Wing action
For a national team without a world-class striker, Portugal's strength relies on their wingers, in this case Simao Sabrosa and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom are very experienced. On the other hand, Spain's full-backs, Sergio Ramos and Joan Capdevilla, are not too sharp in defensive actions, and the fact that they will be under constant threat from Portugal's wingmen will also see them not move up the field that often.
Spain custodian Iker Casillas is not the best goalkeeper in the world as far as set-pieces are concerned; his judgement in this type of situations is not top-notch, and Portugal may look to take advantage of this fact, given that Cristiano Ronaldo is a specialist in taking free kicks.
Casillas is more than happy to have Ronaldo by his side during the regular season, but with the two men now on opposite ends, the Spanish custodian may have to work extra hard to stop Ronaldo's powerful strikes from set pieces.
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