World Cup: Spain vs. Portugal (Matchday Commentary)

SpainLogo Portugallogo


The marquee matchup of the Round of 16 will determine the final spot in the World Cup quarterfinals, as Spain and Portugal meet at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa (2:30 p.m., ESPN/ 

Spain and Portugal, ranked second and third in the world, respectively, not only share a border, but they also hope to share World Cup hosting duties in 2018. Today, the only thing they have in common is the hope of moving on, as one of these two world powerhouses will have its run come to a premature end.

Portugal has yet to concede a goal in the World Cup, shutting down the Ivory Coast, North Korea and Brazil in the group stage in impressive fashion. Spain, meanwhile, has yet to reach its peak form but managed to bounce back from a surprising loss to Switzerland to win its group.

I'll be providing commentary on the match, so please feel free to follow along and share any thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Enjoy the match (commentary after the jump).


POSTGAME – That's all for me for now. Thanks for following along, and keep checking SBI and Fox Soccer for all your World Cup coverage. Have a great day!


POSTGAME – The quarterfinal matchups are all set:

Uruguay vs. Ghana, Brazil vs. Netherlands, Argentina vs. Germany, Spain vs. Paraguay.


POSTGAME – David Villa's run of form continues, as his game-winner in the 63rd minute was all Spain needed to advance. It took a lot, but Portugal's defense was finally beaten.


90th Minute – There's the final whistle!! Spain has advanced! Spain defeats Portugal, 1-0.


90th Minute – Capdevila makes a saving play on the ball in his own box after a turnover sprung Portugal for a counterattack.

Carlos Marchena comes on for Xabi Alonso as the last sub of the match.


90th Minute – Three minutes of added time, with Spain up a man.


89th Minute – Red card for Ricardo Costa!! An elbow to the side of Capdevila's head will be his last play of the World Cup. He'd been stirring up some trouble for quite some time, too.


88th Minute – Last-ditch effort by Capdevila blocks Danny's attempt from the top of the area.


88th Minute – David Villa comes off for Pedro. Barca stud striker for Barca stud striker.


86th Minute – Llorente almost puts it away with a header out of nowhere. Villa with the service, catching the Portuguese defense napping.


85th Minute – Ronaldo with his arms up in the air just outside the area, and he has a legit beef this time. Capdevila face-guarded then pushed Ronaldo down without even seeing the ball. Should've been a free-kick chance for Portugal.


84th Minute – Minutes remain in Portugal's World Cup run. Where is Ronaldo?


82nd Minute – Is there a better possession team in the world than Spain?


80th Minute – Tiago sees yellow for pushing down Villa. If Portugal finds a way to advance, Tiago won't be eligible to be there.


79th Minute – Long balls down the middle aren't going to trouble Pique and Puyol. And giving the ball back to Spain at this stage in the game is a death sentence. Not a good play by Portugal.


77th Minute – SAVE EDUARDO! Villa with a blast from distance that's parried up in the air by Eduardo. What a strike. Accuracy, pace, deception.


76th Minute – Puyol with a spot-on tackle to prevent Coentrao from getting into the Spain box with room to cross. Marvelous defensive play.


74th Minute – Xabi Alonso picks up Spain's first yellow card of the tournament.


72nd Minute – Pedro Mendes replaces Pepe, and Liedson replaces Simao. Carlos Queiroz is out of substitutes.


70th Minute – WOW Ramos comes close to making it 2-0. A great run and shot down the right and an even better save by Eduardo. Corner for Xavi.


68th Minute – Plenty of time for Portugal to find an equalizer, but this is uncharted territory for the Portuguese. They haven't trailed all tournament, and the only team they scored on was North Korea. Cristiano Ronaldo, your country needs you.


66th Minute – To the 34 percent of you who picked David Villa in our halftime poll, you receive a golf clap from me.


65th Minute – That goal should open things up for both teams. Portugal will need to push numbers forward, Spain will have more space to work with.


64th Minute – Beautiful passing at the top of the area orchestrated by Iniesta sets Villa up for the goal. His first shot was saved, but the rebound came out to him and he flipped it over Eduardo. Xavi sprung him down the left with the final pass. Textbook Spain.




61st Minute – Villa goes just wide!! Spain has flipped the switch.


61st Minute – SAVE EDUARDO!! Ramos' cross from Llorente for the diving header at the 6, but the keeper was well positioned. WOW what an enterance for Llorente.


58th Minute – Couple of subs coming on. Danny replaces Hugo Almeida for Portugal. Fernando Llorente will come on for Fernando Torres. Two players that appeared to be closer than anyone else to getting on the scoresheet will come off.


57th Minute – Casillas with a bigtime punch of a cross to keep Portugal at bay.


56th Minute – Another Spain possession stalls out. Don't forget the familiarity factor in this one. So many of these players see each other on a weekly basis in La Liga, and their skill sets aren't mysteries.


53rd Minute – That's the kind of attack Portugal loves. An extended Spain possession with numbers forward that leads to nothing, and a quick dart upfield to take advantage. The chess match continues.


52nd Minute – ALMOST an own goal! Hugo Almeida's cross to Ronaldo deflects off Puyol's knee and just beyond the post. WOW.


49th Minute – Iniesta turns, but he can't get any power on a shot from distance. Much of the same in terms of run of play. Spain foraying forward, Portugal not yielding much and looking to counter.


47th Minute – Great tackle by Coentrao with Torres running right at him. Solid performance by the left back.


46th Minute – And we're back. Thanks for joining us, Portugal.




HALFTIME – Portugal's defenders are positioned well, are very organized and always seem to be in the right spot at the right time. Hard not to admire the work done by that unit.


HALFTIME – Spain had the better chances early, Portugal is maintaining its defensive posture but managed a few chances as well. A goal for either side would open things up immensely.


HALFTIME – Spain 0, Portugal 0.


45th Minute – Carvalho pushes Torres off the ball inside the area after an awful Meireles giveaway deep in his own zone. Great play by Carvalho.


43rd Minute – Tiago with a header attempt but he's wide left. Portugal finishing the half out strongly.


42nd Minute – Great aggressive goalkeeping by Casillas, beating Simao to a long through ball outside of the box. Portuguese forward would've been in on goal.


41st Minute – Xabi Alonso takes an accidental kick under the chin by Coentrao after a tackle. Ouch.


38th Minute – Wow what a chance for Hugo Almeida. Meireles put a wonderful cross into the area, and Almeida's header is inaccurate.


36th Minute – Xavi leaves it off for Xabi Alonso, but Ricardo Carvalho slides down for the block. Portugal's defense is no joke. These guys find a way to get the job done.


35th Minute – Ronaldo not feeling the love from Hector Baldassi today. Doesn't get another call that he thinks he deserved. I think I hear the waahhmbulance coming to Cape Town.


34th Minute – Spain slowing down the pace, working on a patient build-up. Best passing of the tournament so far for Spain.


31st Minute – Yet to have a goal in the run of play in more than 150 minutes of soccer today. 


28th Minute – SAVE CASILLAS! Ronaldo blasts an accurate free kick right off Casillas' chest, and no Portugal players are there for the rebound. Well taken.


26th Minute – Free kick for Portugal 40 yards from goal. 1-8 odds that Ronaldo tries to shoot on goal.


25th Minute – Xavi comes so close to springing Villa down the left side of the box after a beautiful passing sequence. 


22nd Minute – Ronaldo flubs a left-footed shot out for a goal kick.


20th Minute – SAVES CASILLAS! He parries Tiago's 22 yard blast from straight away, and he punches away the rebound before Hugo Almeida can head it home. Portugal's best chance yet.


19th Minute – Torres does too much dancing inside the area trying to split Coentrao and Pepe. They're not falling for that act.


17th Minute – Not a good free kick by Ronaldo, bouncing a 30-yard shot right at Casillas. No trouble for the Spain keeper.


16th Minute – Ronaldo gets a 9.5 for his lovely dive down the right side.


15th Minute – Play evening out a bit after Spain's hot start.


12th Minute – Torres turns and chips from inside the area, almost into the goal. The creativity, flair and confidence appears to be back for the Spain striker.


10th Minute – Ronaldo's teasing cross goes through the area as Almeida fails to run onto it. Nice ball from Ronaldo.


8th Minute – Hectic series in front of Casillas' goal after back-to-back corners as Portugal tries to put its stamp on this start.


7th Minute – Another save by Eduardo, as Villa takes another left-angled shot on goal. Spain sees a weakness in Portugal's right side.


6th Minute – Torres gets taken down around the area by Coentrao, but Hector Baldassi doesn't see anything wrong with it.


5th Minute – Villa earns a Spain corner. Ball can't find its way out of Portugal's half of the field.


3rd Minute – David Villa forces Eduardo into another save. Spain looks sharp and focused early on.


1st Minute – SAVE EDUARDO! WOW what a start for Torres. He shoots from a tough angle on the left and makes the keeper dive to prevent an early goal.


1st Minute – And the Iberian Derby is underway.


PREGAME – Do we think Cristiano Ronaldo knows the Portuguese national anthem?


PREGAME – Biggest questions: Will Ronaldo keep shooting from 30+ yards on a regular basis? Will Fernando Torres reclaim his touch, or his he still too rusty? Will Portugal be more attack-minded or bunker-and-counter? Will Spain find its top form?

We're minutes away from a can't-miss match.


PREGAME – My prediction: Spain 3, Portugal 2. Who wants an instant classic? This guy, right here.


PREGAME – Seriously, though. Rooney? Out. Ribery? Out. Ronaldinho? Not in South Africa. Cannavaro? Done. Drogba? Out. Wild stuff.


PREGAME – If Cristiano Ronaldo wants to quiet any of his critics, a strong performance today would do the trick. He's been flashy and he's had his moments, but he really hasn't been stellar in this World Cup so far. Today's the day he could Write his Future and end the curse of the Nike commercial.


PREGAME – Whichever team wins will be the favorite against Paraguay, but if Portugal wins, it could be a little shorthanded in the quarterfinal. Six players are carrying yellow cards into this match: Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiago, Pepe, Hugo Almeida, Fabio Coentrao and Pedro Mendes.

Spain, meanwhile, has yet to have a player receive a yellow card. Pretty impressive discipline by La Furia Roja.


PREGAME – Let's get the chatter going a little early. Who do you think is going to win? What are your predictions?


PREGAME – Here are the starting lineups:



–Iniesta–Xabi Alonso—Busquets–Xavi–








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84 Responses to World Cup: Spain vs. Portugal (Matchday Commentary)

  1. Scott says:

    I wish Spain wouldn’t start Busquets and Alonso. Purely for selfish reasons, it would be better to watch.

  2. Raymon says:

    The rivalry goes back to the 16th Century, back when they actually split the world between them. I hope this is a war on the pitch…this WC needs one.

  3. Raymon says:

    Busquets provides some entertaining diving displays to rival Greg Louganis.

  4. mikeandike says:

    Portugal will sit back, Ronaldo will try to launch 40 yard shots, Spain will have their nifty dribbles and passes and the game will be decided on a dive in the penalty area 1-0….

  5. Ricky B. Free says:

    Lol Hater, but could end up being true.

  6. Brent McD. says:

    really looking forward to this one! has the potential to be one of the games of the tournament, if portugal doesn’t sit back and bunker of course

  7. Dave says:

    I have to agree about Busquets and the diving. I’m a diehard Barca fan so I love him as one the stars of my team, but the play-acting, especially the moment in the champions league final, really make it difficult at times. He’s such a classy player otherwise, I just wish he would cut that part of his game out. He needs to take a page out of Xavi’s book and play with some integrity…
    That rant aside, I hope we see some attacking stuff, and some great goals, I think Torres will get off the mark today…

  8. Dave says:

    champs league semifinal*

  9. war says:

    Curse of “Write the Future”. Only Spain and Portugal left. Portugal lose now, Spain next round, although I’d take Portugal losing to Paraguay before spain do.

  10. rob says:

    The ref who booked Ozil for diving (only diving booking I think so far) should be at this game. Nothing better for fringe fans to see a match full of diving than to see them all get sent off. Ronaldo is a yellow away from suspension too…

  11. Raymon says:

    Avi predicts a 5 goal fest! I hope so.

  12. Roy says:

    If I didn’t have to pick up the kids and run errands, I’d suggest a Ronaldo Dives drinking game for this one. Problem is I’d get too wasted to stand up, much less get behind the wheel.

  13. Tom in KY says:

    My prediction: Christiano Ronaldo will NOT get a yellow for diving. I’m not saying he will not do something that deserves a yellow for diving, I’m just saying that he will not receive one.

  14. Andrew H. says:

    Sergio Ramos looked like he was going to piss his pants in the tunnel, just like Ricardo Clark did before he did so against England.

  15. jonathan says:

    Ricardo Clark doesn’t, didn’t, and never will deserve to be called a footballer… he simply sucks

  16. Adriano says:

    Viva la furia roja!

    Vamos Espana!

  17. Brian D says:

    Avi, the correct phrasing is “who’s got two thumbs and wants and instant classic?” This guy.”

  18. Ben says:

    Hopefully Pepe gets tossed. Dirtiest player… not a fan of that dude.

  19. war says:

    Pepe has hair?!!! Don’t know why he’d purposfully go bald.

  20. Adriano says:

    Haha. I refreshed the page, and your comment popped up right as he kicked Xavi’s feet out.

  21. Adriano says:

    Well, Spain should have a penalty already. Sigh.

  22. Adriano says:

    Pepe is scum. 3 malicious tackles so far.

  23. Gus Keri says:

    I am afraid this might turn out to be like Spain vs. Switzerland and Spain vs. USA

  24. Stephen says:

    I have friends who are fans of Spain who can’t stand Busquets. They get sick of his diving.

  25. Stevie says:

    Don’t understand what Busquets is doing on this starting XI… Silva would offer more creativity and width, and Alonso could be the holding midfielder.

  26. Stephen says:

    He’ll get better once he gets more playing time in Germany. He’ll mature and make better decisions. It happened to Bradley.

  27. Adriano says:

    Anyone surprised by Portugal parking the bus?

  28. Stephen says:

    C. Ronaldo may be the most selfish player I’ve ever seen. All he does it take shots from distance and go for goal on free kicks. He doesn’t eve try to get good service into the box.

  29. Stephen says:

    And try to dive and draw a free kick. So he can, once again, take a shot on goal.

  30. Adriano says:

    Portugal’s entire team, Ronaldo excluded, is sitting behind the ball.

  31. Stephen says:

    Wow. A lot of typos, sorry.

  32. Gus Keri says:

    A question:

    Portugal – Brazil: 0-0

    Portugal – Ivory Coast: 0-0

    Portugal – Spain: ?-?

  33. Adriano says:

    For the love of everything good, Spain needs to score to stop this trash.

  34. Raymon says:

    Maybe they saw Iker’s girlfriend is nearby, and they are playing for a PK shootout.

  35. Paul says:

    I think that because he’s played for glamor teams like Man U and Real Madrid, it’s almost a “chore” for him to pull on the national team jersey. Like he’s doing them a favor just being there. Crappy attitude.

  36. reverb says:

    Busquets out, Fabregas in so he can supply Torres with the type of passes they both thrive on in the Premier League. Otherwise, the Spanish game does not naturally suit Torres.

  37. sread says:

    +1 Never liked him, never even thought he was that good

  38. Paul says:

    I know that Argentina is a vastly superior team to Portugal, but Messi has utterly outshone Ronaldo in this competition. Great players are supposed to come alive on the biggest stage. What a forgettable World Cup for him.

  39. sread says:

    Why make CR7 captain? He is the most selfish guy in the tournament. He shows no leadership and it’s not even evident that he gives a sh** if they win or not.

  40. Adriano says:

    Just shoot Spain, shoot.

  41. Raymon says:

    Ronaldinho, Ribery, Rooney, and now apparently Ronaldo…..I am sure Nike will have a hard time recruiting stars for their next big commercial. Maybe it’s a curse of the R’s…..

  42. Adriano says:

    David Villa!!!!!!

    That was freaking beautiful!

  43. Jose says:

    Portugal seems to be rattled now that Spain scored!

  44. Andy in Atlanta says:

    That goal looked awful close to being offside…

  45. Paul says:

    Another trend: top 3 Premier League strikers (Torres, Drogba, Rooney) have all had poor or indifferent World Cups. Spain-based strikers (Villa, Fabiano, Higuain) lighting it up.

  46. Jose says:

    If that is writing the future? I guess those players don’t want any part of it.

  47. Adriano says:

    Let’s get an insurance goal!

  48. Adriano says:

    If the official doesn’t start calling these freaking clothesline tackles, I’m going to scream.

  49. Paul says:

    Can’t wait to see Villa play for Barcelona next season. I reckon he might score a few goals (or 40).

  50. Paul says:

    When was the last time Ronaldo touched the ball?

  51. Paul says:

    Just as I say that, he does a nice party piece. Congratulations, Cristiano. You got an instant replay!

  52. Adriano says:

    Villa is just a monster.

  53. canchon says:

    Who is this ref? I’m not for diving, but some of these challenges are fouls and he is simply not calling them.

  54. Paul says:

    Player of the tournament so far?

  55. Adriano says:

    Straight red card.

    Game over.

  56. Adriano says:

    Based on overall impact, it’s between him and Messi.

    But Villa has 4 goals, and Messi has none.

  57. Reality Check says:

    Says the person on an internet messageboard.

  58. Adriano says:

    Christiano Ronaldo officially blows.

  59. Andy in Atlanta says:

    In truth it was a conned red card…shameful really..

  60. Adriano says:

    And, he just spit at the camera man.

  61. canchon says:

    Looks like Capdevila went to the Busquets school of playacting. Disgrace.

  62. mikeandike says:

    1-0 it is! though more exciting in the second half for sure

  63. I <3 MLS says:

    roll roll.. look to see if ref is coming over… fall back down and roll some more. So dumb

  64. war says:

    bet Frankfurt is looking for a loophole to sent him back to MLS right now

  65. Adriano says:

    Last replay shows that he was elbowed in the face. Martin Tyler even commented on it.

  66. war says:

    better than Heinze punching the camera man in the Mexico game. Youtube it

  67. starrock says:

    Another terrible red card at the cup. But it didn’t matter. Spain and Villa need to thank Iniesta first and foremost. Villa is lucky to have him

  68. Adriano says:

    I am so happy that Portugal and their negative soccer is gone.

  69. Eric says:

    I think that I saw more diving from Spain than from Portugal. Portugal’s reputation didnt help them. And i dont know what any of you guys are talking about but i did not see an elbow. I think Spain had the ball continuously for a good 8 minutes right after they scored the winner. I can imagine how frustrating it was for the Portuguese players.

  70. Slyboy says:


    Honestly? There was just as much diving from spain… get over it

  71. Adriano says:

    So which term don’t you understand, “negative soccer” or “diving”, because they are not the same thing.

  72. cj says:

    That was the most pathetic display as oi a National team captain as I have ever seen. The most selfish, arrogant attitude I have ever seen in a player. CR7 needs to retire from international football.

    I have never seen players of the other team just shrug everytime their captain did something. It just shows you that fame and fortune are destroyers of talent.

  73. I <3 MLS says:

    its just Adriano… He is so biased towards all the favorites.

  74. I <3 MLS says:

    do you really like the united states and hate “negative soccer” this much?

  75. LARS says:

    Player of the tournament i’d say so far goes to Honda but yeah Villa will win it or at least the Golden Boot

    remember Torres was injured you guys. He’ll nab 1 goal i hope. A brace would be better. Whenever he scores it’ll help his confidence.

  76. I <3 MLS says:

    That was hilarious. ran into the cameraman while celebrating. then smacked him

  77. Adriano says:

    The US plays dirty soccer.

  78. Adriano says:

    Cool, so Martin Tyler and Efan just made it up.

  79. Roy says:

    In what way are they dirty?

  80. war says:

    Ricardo Clark starting

  81. Slyboy says:

    I have started to notice

  82. Nats says:

    F’ing Spain makes me hate soccer. Beautiful game my butt! If any of those little crapholes were dribbling around in front of me like that, I’d knock them on their butts! Kind of makes you appreciate American Football. Especially with David Villa’s constant diving.

  83. Stephen says:

    Yeah. My prediction is Barca wind CL this year. Messi, Ibrahimavich, Villa, Iniesta, Pique, Puyol, Busquets…all those guys providing service to one another? Unstoppable.

  84. joejoe says:

    According to commentators on ESPN Deportes, Villa was offside. I guess FIFA is going to ignore that little mistake too.