2018 World Cup
Odds to win
By: Jason Green
Oddsmakers have Group B as a two-team race between 2010 World Cup winner Spain and reigning European Championship winners Portugal. Morocco and Iran have longshot odds, but they are not pushovers. Here are the odds to win Group B.
Spain has the talent with the likes of David Silva, Sergio Ramos, Pique, and Sergio Busquets and they have some young guns as well with Alvaro Morata, Marco Asencio, and Isco. Ramos leads the great Spanish defense and their D may be vital for them in this World Cup since their attack is not a great one. Alvaro Morata will be counted on up front to pressure the opposing defense and the counter-attacking of the squad is top-notch. Spain has been pretty impressive in recent friendlies crushing Argentina 6-1 and playing to a 1-1 draw facing defending World Cup champion Germany. Their first match is likely the biggest one having to face Portugal.
Portugal won nine of 10 World Cup qualifying matches and they have the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo. The quad averaged over three goals per Game in European qualifying for the World Cup and they have been up and down in recent friendlies. Andre Silva has to take pressure off Ronaldo up front and he played well in the qualifying matches. The squad does not make many mistakes and they look for another magical run this summer like they had in winning the last European Championships. While Ronaldo and the attack are strong Portugal also has a good defense and midfield, which can press forward on the attack as well as drop back on defense.
Morocco has a great defense and they kept a clean sheet in their last six World Cup qualifying matches. Their defense will be key this summer not only because they do not feature a great attack, but also because they face Portugal and Spain in group play. Mehdi Benatia from Juventus is the anchor of the strong defense for the squad and he also has to help spurn the counter attack, which may be their best chance to score. Morocco has been solid in recent friendlies and they scored wins facing Nigeria and Serbia, who are also in the main World Cup draw. Their opening match is key facing Iran, as if they stumble in that match they will be in trouble still having to face Spain and Portugal.
Like Morocco Iran is led by a solid defense that only gave up two goals in Asian World Cup qualifying where they went unbeaten in six matches. Head coach Carlos Queiroz has a great system and Iran plays a great team Game, but their lack of world-class talent is a major issue. Sardar Azmoun is only 22 years old and already has 22 international goals and the Rubin Kazan striker has to lead the attack. The counter-attack is key with the team likely dropping back on defense from their midfield. The team did not face one team in their recent friendlies, who is playing in Russia this summer.