World Cup 2018, Final Matchday: Group B Preview
The final Matchday of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia will begin today with Uruguay facing the hosts in Group A to decide who proceeds to the round of 16 as the group winner, while Egypt will face Saudi Arabia in a match that can only serve as a consolation win to either side since both teams have already been eliminated.
The Group A scenario is pretty clear since both Uruguay and Russia have already booked a spot in the Round of 16 but things in Group B are not as straightforward since three teams: Portugal, Spain and Iran are in contention to qualify for the Round of 16.
Morocco is the only side that has been eliminated from Group B but they can still spoil Spain's party when they face La Roja on the final Matchday.
Iran vs Portugal
Iran won their first match against Morocco courtesy of a stoppage-time own goal by Moroccan forward Aziz Bouhaddouz. In their second game against Spain, they looked solid in defence but a second-half goal by Spanish striker Diego Costa was enough to beat the Asian side.
Portugal faced their neighbouring Iberian rivals in the opening game and were able to get a point out of that game thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. The next game against Morocco saw a lacklustre performance from Portugal but once again, the Real Madrid superstar delivered for his team as he scored the only goal of the match through a header in the 4th minute of the game.
In their final game, both Iran and Portugal will be looking for a win to seal a Round of 16 berth. Iran, who played against Spain with a defensive mindset and only made counter attacks will have to make some tactical changes as a draw may not be enough for them to proceed.
Portugal, after a mundane performance against Morocco that exposed their dependence upon talisman Ronaldo, will try to change that and go for a win.
Although a draw will be enough to see them into the Round of 16, Portugal will leave no stone unturned to get all 3 points and have a chance of winning the group.
Spain vs Morocco
Spain had a shaky start to their World Cup campaign as just 48 hours before they were scheduled to play their opening game against Portugal, the Spanish head coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked due to him accepting the managerial position at Real Madrid, and was replaced by Fernando Hierro.
Spain have managed to get 4 points after a 3-3 draw with Portugal and a hard fought 1-0 win against Iran.
Morocco currently sit at bottom of the group as they lost both their games and have already been eliminated from the World Cup. After an ill-fated defeat in their opening game against Iran, Morocco put up a strong performance against European champions Portugal, but once again, failed to find the net as they lost 1-0.
On the final matchday, both Spain and Morocco will be determined to win for very different reasons as the European giants will look to get all 3 points and ensure a place in the next round whereas the North Africans will be looking for a consolation victory.
Possible Results and Group Scenario
With three teams fighting for two spots in the Round of 16, this group is headed for an enthralling final matchday. We now take a look at possible results and how they will affect the group standings.
Since Portugal and Spain are the favourites to proceed to the next round, we take a look at all permutations and combinations pertaining to these two sides:
1) Both Portugal and Spain win - Spain and Portugal will qualify with 1st and 2nd place determined by goal difference.
2) Portugal win and Spain draw - Spain and Portugal will qualify with the latter winning the group.
3) Portugal win and Spain lose - Spain and Portugal qualify and the latter wins the group.
4) Portugal draw and Spain win - Spain and Portugal qualify as group winner and runners-up respectively.
5) Portugal lose and Spain win - Spain and Iran qualify as group winner and runners-up respectively.
6) Portugal draw and Spain lose - Portugal qualify as group winners and the 2nd spot between Iran and Spain decided through superior goal difference.
7) Portugal lose and Spain draw - Spain and Iran qualify and the latter wins the group.
8) Both Portugal and Spain draw - Spain and Portugal qualify with 1st and 2nd place determined by goal difference.
9) Both Portugal and Spain lose - Iran qualify as group winners and the 2nd spot between Portugal and Spain will be decided through goal difference.