In another group up for grabs which will surely be a battle between two Europeans powerhouses. Spain are coming off two tournaments they would like to forgot after winning the International treble as Spain Won the 2008 Euros the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euros one the best runs we have seen from a national team. The success of that team was overshadowed by Spain failing the get out of the group in brazil in 2014 an utterly embarrassing tournament from the then World Champions. Two years ago in France it had looked like Spain had gotten their form back and were ready to dominate once again Spain got through the group as winners but in the round of 16 they got slapped around by Italy in a 4-0 smashing them to bits. The question is are they back? Spain have a different but slightly younger squad that looks like it can go the distance. In their qualification group which featured the same Italy Spain went undefeated winning 9 of 10 games including a 3-0 win over Italy which played a part in Italy not qualifying. This Spain team has the tools to go very deep in Russia. Spain have the veteran expiearnce of David Silva, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos, Pique and David Villa Spain all time leader scorer. many of them from those champion Spain teams. Those are important leaders of this team but Spain also has the younger talent that can take them the distance with the likes of Álvaro Morata,Marco Asensio,Isco as well as many other depending on who will be picked in the 23 to go to Russia. Regardless what who they bring they have strong attack defense and safe as they can be in goal with David DeGea. This year for Manchester united DeGea has just been world class this season as I believe is poised for an excellent world cup as he has proven to be one of the best keepers in the world his goalkeeper is the main reason I believe Spain finish top. Spain are stacked from top to bottom and anything but a deep run in the world cup will be failure.
Manager: Julen Lopetegui
Qualifying Place: Top of UEFA Group G
Key Player: David De Gea, Manchester United
Last World Cup: 2014 Brazil, Group Stage
2. Runners up: Portugal
The European champions are ready to try to attempt to pull off the International double. As Portugal want to try to make people forget of their poor performance in Brazil four years ago in the 2014 World cup as they failed to get out of the group after coming off Quarterfinals and Semi Final appearances in the previous two world cups. Portugal have a chance for a deep run once again a great team without a doubt but with flaws this could go two ways Portugal could take this summers world cup by storm go very deep in Russia or the Portuguese can flop much like in 2014. When I picked Portugal to win the euros before the Euros in France two years ago there was something about them they have that grit about them I’m not sure that exists in the same way now. Portugal are the champions of Europe and deserve that respect because they still are champions and still have the tools to go all the way again but if that is to happen its going come down to one man. Cristiano Ronaldo in addition to recently receiving his 5th Ballon D’or he is currently the champions leagues top scorer. Portugal had to battle to win their qualification group after being challenged by a very underrated Switzerland team. In qualifying Cristiano Ronaldo scored 15 goals across all of qualifying only Robert Lewandowski (Poland) has scored more. Portugal topped their group with 28 points won on goal difference just losing once to Switzerland. The most impressive thing about them is their defense only 4 goals have been scored against them if Portugal can get those important grinde it out victories they could be very tough next summer. Spain to me is more of a complete squad so I see Portugal getting second in this group but with Ronaldo you never know what can happen this is probably his last chance at a world cup so I think we will see Ronaldo at his very best this summer but the amount of options Spain has separates the two sides.
Manager: Fernando Santos
Qualifying Place: Top of UEFA Group B
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
Last World Cup: 2014 Brazil, Group Stage
3. Morocco (Elimination)
Morocco made their first world Cup in a decade as they have not been in the competition since 1998 in France where Moroccans didn’t make it out the group finishing with 4 points. I think for the most part they are just happy to be here its I’m so happy for them to get here after not making the world cup in 10 years they should be proud. However they have no chance in this group so getting 3rd in the group is in some a success because neither Morocco or Iran will be taking points off Spain or Portugal. However I think they will have a slight edge on Iran because a lot of their players are playing in Europe they are a few gems in this side. During qualifying they finished top if their group and was not scored on for the entire campaign this will likely change in this group but no the less its impressive not to mention they made the last 8 of the African cup. The keys to success will be Captain Medhi Benatia has been excellent for Juventus this season he will be a huge part of what Morocco can do in this world cup. Attacking wise Hakim Ziyech of Ajax is there only hope he has been really good for the national team scoring 7 goals in 13 games he could be one of the bright spots in what will be an impossible task getting out of this group it will be an impossible battle but a strong showing could send them home with positivity.
Manager: Hervé Renard
Qualifying Place: Top of CAF Third Round Group C
Key Player: Medhi Benatia, Juventus
Last World Cup: 1998 France, Group Stage
4. Iran (Elimination)
Iran return for their second world cup in a row a good achievement for a country facing problems. In Brazil they earned just the one point in the group being sent home after three games however against Argentina it was tied until Messi rescued Argentina late. Iran are ready for another world cup again this side is just happy to be here again as that’s somewhat of an accomplishment in itself. Iran dominated their group earning 22 points and addition to that Iran didn’t lose a game only conceding just two goals. The won their group being 7 points clear of South Korea they did a great job of getting back here to the world cup but it will be very difficult to get though as I see Iran as the bottom of the group they can maybe get third as it is a toss up between them and morocco its very hard to tell which way that could go. How they perform it will come down to Sardar Azmoun who has scored 22 goals in 30 games for his country hen is young and is a capable goal scorer for Iran I think putting in good performances in all the games is important for their country’s prestige getting points in this group would be a success rotten luck landing this group but in the world cup you just never know.
Manager: Carlos Queiroz
Qualifying Place: Top of CAF Third Round Group A
Key Player: Sardar Azmoun, Ruban Kuzan
Last World Cup: 2014 Brazil , Group Stage