GROUP B IRAN
PORTUGAL The reigning European champions come into the tournament with essentially the same prospects as they did in France in 2016: unlikely victors, driven by a man who simply refuses to lose. Cristiano Ronaldo will undoubtedly be one of the stars in Russia, but to drag his peers to a second major triumph in 2018 would require an even more superhuman effort. PREDICTION: Quarter Finals SPAIN Winners in 2010 (enveloped by European victories in 2008 and 2012), Spain’s era of dominance has come to a slight halt, or rather a slow-down, over the past four years, but there are signs that a second wind is imminent. No other country has such a clear identity and style in the modern international game and an early challenge in the form of Portugal could generate the spark required to go all the way again in 2018. PREDICTION: Winners MOROCCO With both Spain and Portugal to contend with in Group B, any sort of progression into the knockout rounds would be a huge surprise. Instead, Iran’s 2018 headlines will derive from manager, Carlos Quieroz’s matchup with the latter, his home nation; and indeed, a chance to pick up a win against an evenly matched Morocco.
PREDICTION: Group Stages