The 2018 World Cup exploded into life on Friday night in Sochi when a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick inspired his Portugal side to step toe-to-toe with Spain and secure a 3-3 draw, in a match that will certainly go down as a World Cup classic.
That Ronaldo treble won’t do his confidence any harm, and is now 7/4 to finish the tournament as the top goal scorer. That’s a great price considering he has games coming up against Iran, as well Wednesday’s opponents, Morocco.
The Atlas Lions were stunned by an injury-time own-goal from Iran as they lost their opener to a solitary goal, and it puts the onus on them to come out the traps and attack their opponents in a similar fashion to their approach against the Iranians. A draw won’t do for the North Africans, and with Portugal looking dangerous on the break against the Spanish last week it’s hard to look past both teams scoring as one of the game’s more reliable-looking bets. Both teams bagging in this one pays 11/10 with William Hill.
However, if you do fancy a cagey game with little in the way of goalmouth action then Morocco still remain a reliable source. Hervé Renard’s side looked solid at the back in their opener for the majority of their game, and their remarkable record of six clean sheets in as many qualifying games tells you they have what it takes to shut sides out. A clean sheet for Morocco isn’t out of the question, and looks a big price at 21/5 with Coral. If you have reservations about a shutout, then back the more modest under 2.5 goals bet at 7/10 with Ladbrokes.
Portugal showed a soft underbelly when their defence was dragged from pillar to post by Spanish striker Diego Costa in their opener, but with Ronaldo at the other end of the pitch they only need once chance to do serious damage. A 1-0 defeat for Morocco against Iran was disastrous with a Portugal-Spain double header on the horizon, and that result will force their hand in the form of a performance on the front foot here.
That approach should bear some fruit in the form of goals but ultimately the game will open up for the likes of Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva to take advantage. This should be a fun game for the neutral, and the Portugal win with both teams to score at 3/1 should give you extra reason to smile.