GROUP B IRAN

EME Outlook - - Sport -

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

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