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Portugal and Spain to Take Control of Group B

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June 20, 2018
Ronaldo starred in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain

Portugal v Morocco, Wednesday 20th June, 13:00

Given the fanfare that surrounded the Ronaldo-infused drama in the Spain v Portugal match, one would be forgiven for forgetting that the match ended in a draw. Morocco themselves were mere moments away from a result that would have seen them level on points with Portugal coming into this tie. And there ends this futile exercise in straw-clutching. Although arguably the better side in their match against Iran, it was a match low on quality and having lost, Morocco’s razor-thin hope of progressing from the group rapidly evaporated. Life isn’t going to start getting any easier for them here.

Portugal, by contrast, starred in one of the finest matches seen anywhere in years. Yes, Ronaldo bagged an incredible hat-trick but it was clear that they are not just a one-man team – we’re looking at you, Argentina. The skill and sheer strength of character that they displayed against their Iberian rivals was breathtaking. That they could reach such sustained emotional heights against Morocco seems unlikely mainly because they won’t have to. Be professional, do your job and the win will come. They even have the luxury of swapping players around should the manager feel the need.

Morocco were always on a hiding to just about nothing after being drawn in a group with Iberian beasts but they had one shot at beautiful World Cup moment and blew it. The dial will be set to damage limitation in an attempt to give a good account of themselves and that being the case, they can play without pressure. You never know, such an attitude may engender some freedom in their style but that would only open them up for a pasting. It’s not impossible for them to scramble a result but the market is loudly scoffing at such utopian notions.

Spain to Show their Class against Iran

Spain expected to show their class against Iran

Iran v Spain, Wednesday 20th June, 19:00

The final match of the day pits the group leaders against a team who conceded three times in their opening game but salvaged a point all the same – Spain. One expects that screenshots of the group table after Round 1 have been widely grabbed all over Iran, printed then framed and hung with pride of place on walls up and down the land. With Spain and then Portugal to follow, it surely gets no better than this.

Spain will hope, for their part, that it gets a whole heap better than this. Having been behind twice against Portugal, they took the lead and held until the death whereupon Ronaldo did that rarest of things and scored from a free-kick. They didn’t lose but the impact of that goal must have left them shell-shocked. A nice, easy run out against the likes of Iran is just what the doctor ordered. This game is not without danger, though. A couple of bad or even clumsy tackles could be enough to visit injuries on key players and such knowledge may lead to a reticence among some players to really get stuck in. It shouldn’t matter too much over the course of the 90 minutes, however.

Much like the other game in their group, the market is heavily skewed with little doubt as to the eventual outcome. Sad to say that it looks as if Iran’s time at the top might be drawing to a close but better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all or whatever the relevant equivalent here should be.

About the author

Alan Penny
Alan Penny


Alan hails from Northern Ireland and is an avid fan of all sports. He has been with us since 2017 and serves as SBO’s Editor-in-Chief. Alan passionately covers everything from the latest regulatory developments across the globe to tips on the latest football matches.