Group B contains Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Iran. This is one of the easier groups to call and I expect Spain and Portugal to progress through to the next phase without any problems. In a group that contains the 2016 European Champions Portugal and 2010 World Cup Winners Spain, I can only see one outcome to the group with both of the class acts qualifying through to the next stage. If I was to be pushed as to who will top the group my money would be on Spain, that is if I had some money to bet with by the way. Morocco and Iran are just along to make up the numbers in this group and barring a monumental shock, it will be Spain and Portugal who advance.
Spain qualified through to Russia by topping European section Group G which also contained Italy. They won the group easily and out of their ten games they managed to win nine and only drew the other one. The fact they came through a group that contained Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein unbeaten shows us how strong this Spanish side will be. Manager Julen Lopetegui has built a very successful side since the Spanish were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup and with players of the calibre of De Gea, Busquets, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Costa and Iniesta they will travel to Russia as one of the favourites for the title. The result in their game against Portugal will be a real indication as to how far they can go in the tournament and that is not a game to be missed.
European Champions Portugal go into the tournament after winning a group which contained Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia and Andorra, losing only one game along the way to Switzerland. One player who a lot will depend on is of course Ronaldo and it will vital that the Portugese keep him fit. On the road to Russia he missed the defeat against Switzerland and his absence from that game just went to show how much the Portugese depend on him. Ronaldo will relish the chance to take on Spain and the prospective meeting with club mate Sergio Ramos could be one of the highlights of the tournament. Manager Fernando Santos will have a lot of quality to call on including Nani, Pepe, Quaresma, Andre Silva and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva. They will be one nation to watch in the tournament but I do not see them repeating their success from 2016.
It is very hard to put any favourable case together to even imagine that Morocco will do anything in this group. It is the first finals they have qualified for since 1998 and an early trip home is what I am expecting, especially if you consider who they are up against. Morocco qualified for the finals from an African group that consisted of Mali, Gabon and Ivory Coast. The captain of the side is Juventus defender Benatia and his experience will be needed if the African side are to have any sort of decent tournament. Manager Herve Renard has been steadily busy building his side and the fact they got to the African Cup quarter finals will stand them in good favour with their fans, but Morocco will be another side going home early.
The fourth team in the group are Iran and they have qualified for their fifth World Cup finals. Their manager is Portugal,s Carlos Queiroz and he will hope to take them through to the knockout stage for the first time in their history. The Iranians are widely accepted as Asia,s best at the moment but they will need to have a successful World Cup to claim that crown. The star man will be striker Sardar Azmoun who got eleven goals in their qualifying campaign. Sardar has been a star in the Russian league with Rostov and Rubin Kazan, in fact his form has alerted Liverpool who have had a look at the skilful 23 year old. It will be a tough ask for Iran to get out of this group but it is not beyond the possibility they could maybe cause a shock.