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2018 World Cup Preview: GROUP B

Kweku Turkson breaks down each of the 8 Groups in the 2018 World Cup for the DSH. In this article, he breaks down GROUP B.

Teams in Group B: Iran, Morocco, Spain, and Portugal

Best Players in Group B: Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos, Davide de Gea (GK)

Spain's shocking decision to sack manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup certainly casts a looming shadow over the Spanish side heading into their opening match against Portugal, which already figured to be a tall task, even before this peculiar development.  

For all of his noteworthy accomplishments, much like his chief adversary for individual global football supremacy, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo's international resume with the National side is actually surprisingly underwhelming, as he has managed to tally just one goal in each of the past three World Cup appearances. The lone exception for his team's success being a European Championship in 2016, in which of course number 7's contributions were limited to being a passionate cheerleader on the touchline after being stretchered off early during Portugal's eventual 1-0 triumph over France. That came on the heels of a putrid performance in Brazil 2014, as the supremely talented- at least on paper- Portuguese side positively bombed in failing to advance out of the group stage. 

However, this go-round Portugal appear to be primed to perform much better, as Ronaldo will see their attack bolstered by the service of Carvalho in his attacking central midfielder role, and the addition of the mercurial twenty-two year old Andre Silva up front.

While Atletico's Diego Costa was seemingly an afterthought during the recently ousted Lopetgui's regime, mainstays Pique, Iniesta, David Silva and Sergio Ramos can still be counted on as solid performers, and steadying influences; especially in the case of Iniesta in the midfield, and Pique patrolling the back end. Isco was the leading scorer for Spain in qualifying; and will look to continue his offensive output in Russia. David de Gea has also continued to make his case as the preeminent goalie in all of soccer while plying his trade for Man United, and obviously only bolsters an already solid defense. The controversy and instability from the fallout of Lopetgui's ouster could only be navigated successfully by such an experienced and talented veteran side.  

While Morocco boasts an impressive attack led by Boufal of Southampton, Benatia of Serie A side Juventus, and the skill of Ajax's Hakim Ziyech, it says here that some spotty play in midfield and a surprisingly shaky performance from a normally solid backline will be their undoing against Portugal and Spain, the two sides who remain the class of the group.

Iran will not add to their grand total of one win (against the USA, no less, in 1998) at the World Cup finals in Russia this year in being eliminated in the Group Stage yet again. 

Final Prediction:Despite all of the pre-tournament drama and instability, Spain battles Portugal for the top spot in the group, and both advance.

Darkhorse/Sleeper Pick: None. Unless of course one or both of the two heavy favorites suffer a disastrous injury to a key player, and/or completely implode; which of course is NOT completely out of the realm of possibilities considering the underachieving nature of some of their past performances on football's biggest stage. In that case, Morocco could sneak in.

By Kweku Turkson
Writer for

This post first appeared on TheDailySportsHerald, please read the originial post: here

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2018 World Cup Preview: GROUP B


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