With each team dealing with distractions, it might be worth taking a chance on Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo against rival Spain in the big matchup on the first full day of World Cup action.
Spain is listed as a +105 betting favorite on Friday’s World Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com with Portugal coming back at +305, while the draw is priced at +225 on the three-way moneyline and there is a 2.0 total.
Favored Spain had a shake-up on Tuesday when manager Fernando Hierro was airlifted in after the shock firing of Julen Lopetegui. Spain’s defensive strength is also touch-and-go with right-back Dani Carjaval (hamstring).
That said, form in international play over the last year points to Spain, which is 7-0-3 (wins/losses/draws) in its last 10 international games whereas Portugal is 1-2-2 in its last five.
Being in Group B with the aforementioned European squads means Morocco (+120) and Iran (+280, draw +195) will each need to play to win in their matchup in St. Petersburg. The over on the 2.0 total is enticing at even money.
Uruguay (-185) faces Egypt (+600, draw +275) in Yekaterinburg. Egypt has failed to win any of its last six outings and might not have a fully healthy Mohamed Salah (shoulder), suggesting a likelihood of Uruguay grinding out a result in a game that finishes under the 2.5 total.
Argentina (-300) will ride the Lionel Messi effect against Iceland (+900, draw +400) in a Saturday World Cup betting matchup in Moscow. Iceland, with an attack built around Johann Berg Gudmundsson of Burnley, won’t roll over easily and the over on the 2.5 total should hit.
France (-425) is among the contenders on the overall odds to win the World Cup, while Australia (+1000, draw +550) will be looking to exasperate Les Bleus with defensive tactics in their matchup at Kazan. It might not come easily, but France has a strong chance to cover the minus-1.5 goals line.
Denmark (+135) is favored, but Peru (+220, +220 draw) takes a 15-match unbeaten streak into the matchup in Saransk, compared to the Danes’ four-game streak. Denmark’s last four matches have all finished below this match’s 2.5 total and a well-played 1-1 draw seems eminently possible.
Croatia (-135), paced by Barcelona midfielder Luka Modric, will be looking for a statement win against Nigeria (+400, +265 draw) at Kaliningrad. Nigeria is winless in its last four outings. Eight of Croatia’s last 10 matches and six of Nigeria’s last 10 have finished with fewer than 2.5 goals.
Defending champion Germany (-205) begins its quest for a repeat against Mexico (+575, +345 draw) at Moscow on Sunday. Since reunification, Germany is 6-0 in opening games with a 23-2 goal differential, so the form would suggest manager Joachim Low’s side can win convincingly.
There isn’t much value on playing Brazil (-245) for a likely win against Switzerland (+750, +370 draw) at Rostov-on-Don, but the favorites come in having recorded a clean sheet in seven of their last eight matches. Switzerland has also had clean sheets in five of six outings, suggesting it’s unlikely both teams will score.
The matchup between Serbia (-110) and Costa Rica (+360, +225 draw) in Samara stacks up as projection vs. past performance. Serbia and Aleksandar Mitrovic of Newcastle United fame are overdue to convert age-group success to the senior level, while 2014 quarterfinalist Costa Rica has lost key defender Ronald Matarrita (hamstring) to injury.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top World Cup betting news check out the OddsShark FC podcast with Andrew Avery, Rob Trites, and Craig Cormier. Listen to it at OddsSharkFC.libsyn.com.