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The 2018 FIFA World Cup Group B promises some tremendous games, as the current European Champions Portugal, mighty Spain, talented Morocco, and sturdy Iran all make an interesting competition for the top two spots here. The opening venue brings a duel between underdogs Morocco and Iran, while the second game is a pure classic as Portugal goes on Spain. Both games are set for this Friday, June 15th, 2018, and should tell us a lot about teams' current form. Spain is the strongest favorite to top the Group B table, while Portugal could have some issues to qualify for the second round alongside Iran and particularly Morocco.
The winners of the EURO 2016 will try to grab two major trophies in a row, but beating the 2018 World Cup should be a hefty task for Cristiano Ronaldo and co., although they have some qualities that could bring them pretty far. Portugal has become the European champion using a disciplined and patient approach, and the bettors can expect to see more of the same at the World Cup, as the manager Fernando Santos prefers to play cautiously, trying to neutralize his team's flaws. He has introduced some young and talented players into the squad, but there are still some old and slow players among the defensive line who could struggle against pacey sides such as Spain and Morocco.
Portugal's Key Players
Cristiano Ronaldo (150 caps, 81 goals) is a heart and soul of this Portugal team leading the side for more than a decade, while this could be his last chance to lift the World Cup Trophy and become arguably the greatest of all time. His recent form was spectacular, finishing the season with 44 goals in 44 games, so the bettors should pay attention to CR7. The promising forward Bernardo Silva should provide creativity, while the 35-year old vice-captain Pepe will hold the things at the back.
Betting Picks and Odds
Portugal to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at -450/+333
Portugal to Finish Bottom of Group at +1100
Portugal to Reach the Quarter-Finals at +137
Portugal to Win the World Cup at +2500
Top Pick: Portugal vs. Iran – Portugal AH -1.5 at +115
The Red Fury is considered by the bookies as one of the strongest contenders to win the title in Russia with only Brazil and Germany ahead of Spain on the favorites list. The awful performance from Brazil 2014 puts more pressure on Red Fury's shoulders, as the fans expect to see some kind of redemption at the 2018 World Cup which automatically means they want to see Spain in the Final. The manager Julen Lopetegui still cherishes a fluid short-passing style of play, having plenty of talent among the squad, so anything bellow Semi-Finals would be a disaster for both fans and pundits.
Spain's Key Players
Spain possesses a couple of top-notch players at each position in the team, but the experienced dynamic duo Andres Iniesta and David Silva should orchestrate the play from midfield and be crucial for eventual team's success. The striker Diego Costa is a great danger but needs to control his temper, while the keeper David De Gea is almost unbeatable in the last two seasons. Likewise, the captain Sergio Ramos should be a defensive rock for the Red Fury along with Barcelona's Gerard Pique.
Betting Picks and Odds
Spain to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at -1600/+900
Spain to Finish Bottom of Group at +3300
Spain to Reach the Quarter-Finals at -225
Spain to Win the World Cup at +600
Top Pick: Spain to Reach the Semi-Final at +137
Iran is coming to Russia with one of the most exciting teams in their history, and after solid displays at the previous World Cup where they failed to reach the knock-out phase, Team Melli hopes for that one step further. The manager Carlos Queiroz is at the helm for almost eight years now, so the experienced tactician surely has a plan for how to deal with heavyweights in the Group B. He relies on a hard teamwork, and in the combination with sturdy defensive work, Team Melli is often a tough opponent to beat. However, Iran put on some poor performance in the recent friendly match against Turkey, losing 2-1 against a ten-men rival, while a 1-0 victory over Lithuania couldn't satisfy expectations.
Iran's Key Players
The striker Karim Ansarifard is a target-man at the front who knows how to hold up the ball which is essential when launching counter-attacks. The talented forward Sardar Azmoun has a great eye for a goal, while the captain Masoud Shojaei will orchestrate the play in the middle of the park.
Betting Picks and Odds
Iran to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at +550/-900
Iran to Finish Bottom of Group at -138
Iran to Reach the Quarter-Finals at +1400
Iran to Win the World Cup at +50000
Top Pick: Bottom of Group (-138)
The Atlas Lions roar again, clinching the World Cup spot after a 20-year drought, so they have a huge motive to prove their worth on the biggest stage. Along with a couple of exceptional individuals among the squad, Morocco is a pacey team who can cause a lot of damage with high pressure. The head coach Herve Renard prefers a 4-5-1 formation so he can pressure the ball more in the middle of the park, insisting on a direct-passing style of play, as he can count on some good technicians who are also proficient with the ball on their feet.
Morocco's Key Players
The 25-year old Ajax's playmaker Hakim Ziyech is a promising star whose creativity is invaluable for this Morocco team. Ziyech is also a dangerous set-pieces taker, providing plenty of chances for his teammates. The skillful duo Younes Belhanda and Mbark Boussoufa should be an important part of team's offensive play, while the captain Medhi Benatia will orchestrate the defense.
Betting Picks and Odds
Morocco to Qualify From Group A Yes/No at +350/-500
Morocco to Finish Bottom of Group at +137
Morocco to Reach the Quarter-Finals at +1000
Morocco to Win the World Cup at +50000
Top Pick: Morocco vs. Iran – Morocco wins at +130
Group B Schedule
|Date||HOME||AWAY||1||X||2||O/U 2.5 Goals|
Group B Forecast Odds
1st Spain, 2nd Portugal (+120)
1st Portugal, 2nd Spain (+275)
1st Spain, 2nd Morocco (+650)
Portugal & Spain (-250)
Morocco & Spain (+500)
Iran & Spain (+750)
Morocco & Portugal (+1400)
My Pick: 1st Spain, 2nd Portugal at +120
Group B Verdict
The Matchday 1 games could be crucial here, especially the clash between Iran and Morocco where the potential loser would be in dire straits already. I'm backing Morocco to win against Team Melli, as I think the Atlas Lions are a stronger side than Iran with more dangerous players in the team. Likewise, the bettors should expect a great game between Portugal and Spain, but also when Portugal meets Morocco, particularly if Morocco get three points against Iran.
Spain is arguably the strongest side in this competition, and if the Red Fury finds the top form in Russia, the bettors could easily see Spain all the way to the Finals. Portugal certainly has a quality to reach the second round, but I don't see them as strong favorites to beat the 2018 World Cup. Even Quarter-Finals should be a big achievement for Cristiano Ronaldo and co., while Morocco is the team who has a potential to upset the odds from Group B.