Football superpowers Portugal and Spain kick off their 2018 World Cup with a Friday match in Sochi at 2 p.m. ET. Spain, which took home the 2010 title, is -117 on the money line, meaning you would need to risk $117 on Spain to win to earn a $100 profit. Portugal, which claimed its first European Championship in 2016, is +344 on the money line, which would require a $100 wager on Portugal to earn $344. The current line is +239 for a draw. The over-under, or total number of goals expected to be scored, is two.

Before you make your pick on this highly anticipated 2018 World Cup match, you need to see what SportsLine football expert Thomas Rongen has to say. The Dutch-American commentator was the assistant coach and chief international scout for the U.S. men’s national team. He also was named MLS Coach of the Year with the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

Rongen is an astute evaluator of talent and extremely familiar with these rosters. He has scrutinized all of the matchups and trends that will determine the outcome and even isolated a crucial x-factor based on his knowledge of these coaches and players that you’re not even considering.

Rongen is aware that in the nations’ lone head-to-head World Cup contest eight years ago, Spain shut down Portugal 1-0. The Spaniards boast one of the fiercest defenses in the world, but the Portuguese have perhaps the top player on the planet in Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Ronaldo was directly involved in more goals than any other player in the qualifiers,” Rongen told SportsLine. “But he has gone 340 scoreless minutes against Spain.”

During the last World Cup, Portugal failed to advance to the knockout stage and suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat to eventual champion Germany in group play. Spain, too, failed to make the final 16, losing to Chile and the Netherlands.

Ronaldo has tallied three World Cup goals — one in each of the previous three tournaments, and the squads have combined for only four goals in their four major tournament matchups.

So which squad does Rongen believe will win its World Cup opener? And where does all of the betting value lie? Visit SportsLine now to see Thomas Rongen’s exclusive Spain vs Portugal pick, all from the Dutch-American soccer coach who served as chief international scout for the U.S. men’s national team.


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