Spain and Portugal Scrape Through in Group B
Group B came to a dramatic conclusion on June 25th with Spain and Portugal progressing narrowly ahead of Iran. La Roja collected just four points from a possible nine but it proved enough to qualify for the knock-out round and set up a last 16 encounter with the hosts, Russia.
Fernando Hierro’s side scraped a narrow 1-0 win against Iran in their second Group B match but they fell behind against Morocco as Khalid Boutaib exposed Spain’s high defensive line and coolly slotted home. Isco equalised soon after but Spain toiled in their bid to find a winner and they were punished in the second half for some generous defending. Sub Iago Aspas equalised late in the game with some assistance from VAR but their slackness at the back is a huge concern for Spanish fans.
The 2010-winners have conceded five times during the group stage, with an additional goal being ruled out through VAR. They shipped just two goals eight years ago in South Africa but their back-line looks shaky and unreliable this time around. Despite their unconvincing displays, Spain remain the outright favourites for the 2018 World Cup and can be backed at 5.00 with 888sport.
They must overcome Russia in the round of 16 and will fancy their chances after watching the hosts capitulate against Uruguay in the final Group A contest. They can be backed at 1.65 with Betway.
Portugal Fail to Convince at the Group Stage
European Champions Portugal were unconvincing during the group stage and may struggle to reach the quarter-final stage of the competition. Fernando Santos’ side have crept through to the last 16 following their 1-1 draw with Iran. They barely created anything against Morocco and failed to build upon Ricardo Quaresma’s stunning strike against Iran.
Cristiano Ronaldo struggled to engineer space against Carlos Queiroz’s side and he was booked in the second half. He will now be walking a tightrope for the rest of the tournament.
Portugal’s last appearance in the round of 16 was in 2010 where they crashed out to neighbours Spain in Cape Town. They have been priced up by 888sport as 2.80 favourites against Uruguay but they could struggle to find a way past Oscar Tabarez’s side. Uruguay are yet to concede a goal at the tournament and will fancy their chances of progressing to the last eight.