World Cup 2018: Group B Preview, Predictions and Best Bets…

Portugal

Portugal will hope to build on their triumph in France two years ago as they prepare to take on the world’s best in Russia this summer. Their squad is full of familiar faces and are fairly unchanged from their Euro 2016 success, though the addition of creative midfielder Bernardo Silva, having missed out two years ago through injury, will be welcomed. Manager Fernando Santos will be hoping the same ‘keep it tight and work hard’ mentality will be enough to allow them to go far once again, but in reality it’s unlikely.

Expect…the Ronaldo show – all eyes will be on the five-time Ballon d’Or winner when the Portuguese take to the pitch.

Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Group Prediction: 2nd
Stage of Elimination: Last 16
Best Bet: Cristiano Ronaldo Top Team Goalscorer (8/13)
 
 
 

Morocco

Victory over the Ivory Coast in a play-off ensured Morocco’s qualification for a World Cup for the first time in 20 years. They are led by French boss Herve Renard who has had his fair share of success in international football, having been the first manager to win the African Cup of Nations with two different nations. What they lack in star quality they make up for in determination and toughness and will prove tricky opponents for the likes of Spain and Portugal.

Expect…crunching tackles, referee smothering and bookings, but ultimately an early exit.

Key Player: Medhi Benatia
Group Prediction: 4th
Stage of Elimination: Group Stage
Best Bet: Not To Win a Group B game (21/20)
 
 


GroupA

 

Iran

Iran went unbeaten on the road to Russia, albeit against the likes of Syria, Uzbekistan and Qatar, however it was their defensive record that impressed most. They conceded just two goals in 10 matches, keeping nine clean sheets, though that may partly be down to their imposing 6-foot-4 goalkeeping giant Alireza Beiranvand. With seasoned gaffer Carlos Queiroz at the helm, they will be organised and well-drilled but with his home nation Portugal in the same group things could turn interesting on June 25, especially should both still be in with a chance of qualification.

Expect…the bus to be firmly parked from kickoff while hoping to pinch a goal from nothing.

Key Player: Alireza Jahanbakhsh
Group Prediction: 3rd
Stage of Elimination: Group Stage
Best Bet: Under 2 Group B Points (8/11)
 
 
 

Spain

Spain will be desperate to rediscover their successes between 2008 and 2012, in which they lifted a World Cup sandwiched by consecutive European trophies. Following huge disappointment in 2014 and a last 16 departure in France, long term coach Vicente Del Bosque stepped down with ex-Porto manager Julen Lopetegui taking charge. If qualification is anything to go by Spain should have high hopes this summer having remained unbeaten in 10 matches and netting 36 goals in the process.

Expect…a straight forward group stage but to come unstuck in the later rounds.

Key Player: Sergio Busquets
Group Prediction: 1st
Stage of Elimination: Quarter-Final
Best Bet: To Reach the Quarter Final (1/2)
 
 


Group B Fixtures

 
June 15 | Morocco v Iran (16:00)
June 15 | Portugal v Spain (19:00)

June 20 | Portugal v Morocco (13:00)
June 20 | Iran v Spain (19:00)

June 25 | Iran v Portugal (19:00)
June 25 | Spain v Morocco (19:00)
 
 

Group B Forecast

 

Group BProjected PointsWin GroupGroup Qualification
Spain748%93%
Portugal741%84%
Iran16%12%
Morocco15%11%

 
 
World Cup 2018 Group Previews:

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

 
 

(Statistics, data and odds correct of date and time published).

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