Spain Hierro
The experience in the Spain squad should help new coach Fernando HierroGetty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo will be champing at the bit to have a go at Spain, after the former world champions shot themselves in the foot by sacking their manager with two days to go to the start of their Fifa World Cup 2018 campaign.

Once Julen Lopetegui was named as the new Real Madrid manager, without prior consent from the Spanish FA, the football authorities had no choice but to let go of their manager, with the sporting director Fernando Hierro now taking over as the head coach for the World Cup.

This is, of course,a situation that Spain would not have asked for even at the worst of times, but just how mentally strong this squad is we'll know when they face Portugal.

Hierro has promised he won't tinker with the team too much, so that should mean Spain going into their World Cup opener with pretty much the same formation and tactics they deployed under Lopetegui.

However, what will be interesting to see is if Spain can just forget about what has happened in the build-up to this match and concentrate on the job at hand.

There is no reason why they shouldn't be able to do it, considering they have loads of experience on pretty much every part of the pitch.

David de Gea is an experienced goalkeeper, and in Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, Spain have two world-class, utterly seasoned central defenders.

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets will provide the know-how and experience in midfield, while David Silva and Diego Costa know what needs to be done in pressure situations further upfield.

That experience will come in handy against a Portugal side who defied expectations in Euro 2016, and any team that has Ronaldo in it, you need to be wary of, as the Real Madrid and Barcelona players in this Spain squad will only know too well.

Team news:


There are no injury concerns for the European champions, with Fernando Santos having to make a couple of first-team decisions.

Will Jose Fonte, no longer a Premier League player, Bruno Alves or Bruno Fernandes partner the experienced Pepe at the centre of defence?

And will it be the exciting Goncalo Guedes or the more centre-forward-like Andre Silva who partners the Ronaldo up front for Portugal?


The 2010 world champions have one injury worry in the shape of Dani Carvajal, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury sustained in the Uefa Champions League final. The right-back returned to training earlier this week, but it will be a touch-and-go decision on whether he is ready to start, and that too such a high-profile World Cup Group B match.

If Hierro decides risking Carvajal is not a good idea, then he is likely to go with Alvaro Odriozola at right fullback, the natural choice, or Nacho, who has played there for Real Madrid.

The rest of the team should, pretty much, pick itself.

Confirmed starting XI:

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Cedric Soares, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro; Bruno Fernandes, Joao Moutinho, William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva; Cristiano Ronaldo, Goncalo Guedes.

Spain: David De Gea; Nacho, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Koke; David Silva, Isco, Andres Iniesta; Diego Costa.