By Niall Clarke

  • Group B Preview and predictions
  • Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – In the build up to the World Cup, Britwatch Sports will look at every group and give our predictions on who will finish where. Today we look at Group B which features European champions Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran.

 

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Fixtures

June 15th: Morocco vs Iran (16:00)
June 15th: Portugal vs Spain (19:00)
June 20th: Portugal vs Morocco (13:00)
June 20th: Spain vs Iran (19:00)
June 25th:  Iran vs Portugal (19:00)
June 25th: Morocco vs Spain (19:00)

 

Portugal

Embed from Getty Images

Fifa World Ranking: 4

World Cup Appearance: 7th

Previous Best: 3rd (1966)

2014: Group Stage

Qualifying: First in UEFA Group B

Portugal won their first major international trophy two years ago in France when they were crowned European Champions. They have never won the World Cup however so will this year be their year? When you think of this team you immediately think of Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the man the Portuguese will look for inspiration and his individual performances will have a major impact on how the Portuguese will fare in the competition.

It was a solid defence though that was key in France and it will be difficult seeing any team in this group with the exception of Spain breaking them down. They have quality up and down the pitch and they should see themselves out of this group comfortably.

Prediction: Second Place

 

Spain

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Fifa World Ranking: 15

World Cup Appearance: 15th

Previous Best: Winners (2010)

2014: Group Stage

Qualifying: First in UEFA Group G

As the most successful nation in world football this century, Spain will go into Russia as one of the favourites to win the World Cup once again, but this is a different Spanish side to the one that won three major trophies in a row.

With the likes of Xavi, Iker Casillas and David Villa gone and new faces such as Isco, Marco Asensio and David De Gea in, there are some new breed of Spanish hopefuls looking to be crowned World Champions along with some of the remaining Golden Generation. This squad is knee-deep in talent with one of the best starting XIs in the competition, and it would be no shock to see them go 100% in this group. Their only major test will come in the opening game against Portugal, the match that should decide who goes through as group winners.

Prediction: First Place

 

Morocco

Embed from Getty Images

Fifa World Ranking: 41

World Cup Appearance: 5th

Previous Best: Round of 16 (1986)

2014: Did not qualify

Qualifying: First in Africa Group C

Morocco are making their first World Cup appearance since 1998 where they failed to make it past the group stages. The odds are against them going one further 20 years on in a group with Spain and Portugal, but this is a team that could surprise a few like they did in 1986 where they made the round of 16.

There are some recognisable faces in there such as Mehdi Benatia of Juventus and Younes Belhanda who has played for multiple clubs across Europe, but overall the quality lacks compared to the top two teams in the group. The best case they can hope for is third place, and that will come down to their game against Iran. They could provide the top two with some problems, but in order to advance they will almost certainly need to beat at least one of them.

Prediction: Third Place

 

Iran

Embed from Getty Images

Fifa World Ranking: 37

World Cup Appearance: 5th

Previous Best: Group Stage

2014: Group Stage

Qualifying: First in Asia Group A

Iran are making their second World Cup appearance in a row after finishing top of their qualifying group in Asia without losing a game. This is a well drilled team that could shock a few in a different group, but like Morocco the odds are against them progressing to the knockout rounds.

Iran are not a free scoring team, as shown by their 10 goals in 10 matches in qualifying, however their defence is a difficult one to break down. Iran conceded only two goals in a group containing fellow qualifiers South Korea. There are little to no recognisable names in this side, but they have Carlos Queiroz in the dugout, a manager with plenty of experience. With their ability to defend they could make things difficult for the top sides, it is just a shame for them it will likely not be enough.

Prediction: Fourth Place

The XXI FIFA World Cup Starts on June 14, as Russia host Saudi Arabia in the tournament’s curtain-raiser in Moscow at 4pm UK time.

 

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