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Night two of competition in the 2018 World Cup sees matches take place in Group A and B.
Egypt do battle with Uruguay prior to Morocco clashing with Iran in Saint Petersburg. Following that, the heavyweights come out to play when Portugal meet Spain in one of the most appealing and juicy clashes in the group stage.
The tournament has begun with a bang and the excitement has stretched across the globe. Now it is time for the football to shine and the Socceroos’ first match is just a day away.
Good luck with your selections as the voice of the crowd and don’t forget to enter them in the sheet below to engage in the World Cup conversation.
Here is how the experts see the first full night of competition unfolding.
Uruguay, Draw, Portugal
I feel Uruguay may have the coziest draw of all and cannot see any of their opponents in the group stage causing them any trouble. Edinson Cavani could set himself up for Golden Boot honours on the back of the group stage alone. I expect to see multiple goals in this one and with Mo Salah absent, they won’t be credited to the Egyptians.
Morocco versus Iran is not a game I had pencilled in as a clash of the titans, yet for both teams it is an enormous opportunity to gain three valuable points. If either are to grab second spot in the group, this is a must win. It has me baffled and thus a draw seems likely.
In direct comparison, the Portugal versus Spain clash could be epic. With some claiming there is little substance to Portugal beyond Cristiano Ronaldo, the sheer quality in the Spanish squad should prove too strong for the 2016 European Champions? On a gut instinct, I say no. I am tipping a huge upset and Portugal to further derail the early moments of Spain’s World Cup campaign.
Uruguay, Morocco, Spain
No Salah, no chance? Egypt look almost certain to miss their talisman, while Uruguayan strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani could run riot here. The South Americans should prevail.
Morocco’s first finals appearance since 1998 means they’ll be fired up for their return, while Iran possess plenty of passion but might be short on quality. Morocco in a close one.
I’m not convinced by Spain, although they’ll have learnt from their disastrous 2014 campaign. Portugal aren’t necessarily a one-man show, but Spain might have too much talent here.
Uruguay, Morocco, Spain
Uruguay should have no issues dominating this weak Group A. For Egypt, a lot rests on the shoulders of Mohamed Salah. At the time of writing, we don’t know whether the superstar winger is going to be fit to play, but really, it shouldn’t matter. Uruguay are the far stronger team, particularly up front, and should notch a comfortable victory.
Neither Morocco nor Iran are much of a chance of progressing from Group B, and this encounter looms as the only realistic opportunity of grabbing a win in Russia. I’ll take Morocco – they bring decent form into this one, and the step up in class will be too much for Iran.
Portugal have had wretched luck in World Cup draws recently; they faced Germany in 2014, Brazil in 2010 and now they have to face Spain in their opening match in Russia. It’s a terribly difficult way to kick off their campaign (or at least it was before Julen Lopetegui was shown the door on Wednesday night), and while it should be a great game La Roja will be too good for Cristiano Ronaldo and co.
Draw, draw, Spain
Egypt and Uruguay are more evenly matched than you might expect, although Mohamed Salah’s absence is predictably a big blow for the former. Both teams are solid defensively, which might make this more a slog than entertainment.
Iran surprised many with their competitiveness at the last World Cup, and Carlos Quieroz is an excellent organiser who can make his teams very hard to beat. However, I feel they lack the attacking quality to have outlets on the counter. In another tight game in a tight group, there might be limited moments of creative inspiration but plenty of disciplined, organised defending, if you like that sort of thing.
I thought Portugal versus Spain would produce the first winner of the tournament – but that was before Julian Lopetegui’s surprise sacking. I think Spain have an extraordinarily good squad, particularly at the back and in goals, and still feel they will win the tournament, but the turmoil surrounding the side surely won’t be helpful. They’ll win, but it’ll be very nervy against a functional but somewhat limited Portugal team.
Uruguay, draw, Portugal
What an interesting match-up Egypt and Uruguay promises to be. Mo Salah up against Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Can Salah carry the weight of Egypt’s hopes on his (slightly dodgy) shoulders? Expect the ubiquitous Uruguayans to upstage the funky Pharaohs.
Morocco versus Iran is a match that both teams will believe they can win and therefore give themselves a shot at the knockout rounds. Iran showed some class in the Asian qualifiers and are ranked 37th to Morocco’s 41st. It will be an entertaining drawn game.
Portugal versus Spain is probably the pick of the first round of matches. Spain’s coaching shambles just adds to the intrigue around this game and gives Portugal the edge. Can the 33-year-old Ronaldo still produce the goods? Of course he can. The plucky Portuguese should spear the stunned Spaniards.
|Day 2||Stuart||Mike||Daniel||Tim||Paul||The Crowd|
|EGY vs URU||Uruguay||Uruguay||Uruguay||Draw||Uruguay||Uruguay|
|MAR vs IRN||Draw||Morocco||Morocco||Draw||Draw||Morocco|
|POR vs ESP||Portugal||Spain||Spain||Spain||Portugal||Spain|
Uruguay are heavy favourites to beat Egypt, starting at $1.60 compared to their opponents’ $6.50 and $3.55 for the draw. Morocco ($2.20) and Iran ($3.80) is a little closer, with the draw at $2.90, while Spain are paying $2.05 to beat Portugal despite the recent sacking of Julen Lopetegui. That has Portugal at the enticing price of $3.90, and the draw is paying $3.15.
|EGY vs URU|
|MAR vs IRN|
|POR vs ESP|
Odds via Pointsbet are correct as of 4:25pm (AEST) Thursday, June 14.
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