Group B stages one of the ties of the 2018 FIFA World Cup group stage, with European champions Portugal meeting in-form Spain in Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium on the second day of the tournament, June 15.
The two European neighbours are joined in Group B by African qualifiers Morocco – into the finals for the first time since France 1998 – and Asia’s Iran, who have won just one of their previous 12 World Cup matches.
Read on for the fixtures, group odds and forecasts in Group B…
Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg
Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Kazan Arena, Kazan
Mordovia Arena, Saransk
Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
In what is expected to be one of the tighter groups in the 2018 World Cup group stage, Spain are 1/2 favourites to top the group, while European champions Portugal are 2/1.
Morocco are 16/1, while Iran are 33/1, but realistically it will be between the two European teams – and their opening fixture will be key in determining which of them goes through.
In head-to-head fixtures, Portugal have won just six of their 36 previous games against Spain, but two of those have come in the last four matches. Spain, however, are the form team and will be expected to go through as group winners.
Unsurprisingly, given their expected dominance, group qualification has less value in it. Spain are 1/16 to go through, while Portugal are 2/9.
Morocco may have been defensively sound in qualifying, but they have not past the group stages in either of their last two tournaments – and those were back in 1994 and 1998 too.
Iran, meanwhile, have not won a match in either of the last two tournaments they have qualified for, in 2006 and 2014. Their form in qualifying was good, but they will not expect to usurp Spain and Portugual.
The key then is to predict which order Spain and Portugal will finish, and there is a little more value in opting for a group forecast bet than a straight group winners bet.
Realistically, it should be between Spain and Portugal for first and second, if both sides play to their full strength, and you can get 6/5 on Spain topping the group ahead of Portugal with Bet365 and 11/4 on Portugal topping the group ahead of Spain.
Iran are narrow favourites to finish bottom of Group B at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as indeed they did in their last two World Cup campaigns. Bet365 are offering 5/6 on Iran finishing bottom and 5/4 on Morocco earning the ‘wooden spoon’.
That said, Iran are unbeaten in their two previous head-to-head meetings – albeit, they have not played each other since 2002. Nevertheless, if the likes of Jahanbakhsh can break down Morocco’s stubborn defence it could be the African team finishing bottom.
Spain and Portugal should go through with little drama, with the only point of note being which of them tops the group and gets the theoretically more favourable route through the knockout rounds.
here is more value in picking a group forecast bet than a straight winner’s pick, given how unlikely it seems that either Iran or Morocco will grab a top-two spot. 1st – Spain, 2nd – Portugal will land you 6/5 with Bet365.
Spain (6/5 to finish 1st ahead of Portugal with Bet365)
Portugal (2/9 to qualify with Bet365)
Iran (1/9 to not qualify with Bet365)
Morocco (5/4 to finish bottom of the group with Bet365)
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