The 2018 World Cup group stage enters its final phase, which means four matches and the conclusions of two groups each day. We begin with Group A as Uruguay play Russia for supremacy, and Group B where Iran will try to stun Portugal and qualify, while Spain need to finish the job against the out-of-options but still dangerous Morocco.
Nothing too complicated here. Head to head between Uruguay (2nd place right now due to goal difference) and Russia for the top spot in the group. Anything but a Uruguay win will send the hosts through from the top spot in the group. Saudi Arabia and Egypt will both play for a chance to take home a point and a goal (both still goalless).
Uruguay vs Russia prediction: Both sides will face a serious opponent for the first time in this tournament. In terms of football, Russia are by far inferior, but being hosts usually comes with benefits, some of them questionable considering what we know about Russian athletes and their doping projects over the years. Hopefully it’s not the case this time. To the point: Draw or win for Uruguay.
Saudi Arabia vs Egypt: If Mohamed Salah plays, Egypt will win. Without him, we might get our first 0-0 draw of the tournament.
With Spain currently leading the group due to better disciplinary record over Portugal, this is how and who can qualify: Iran have to beat Portugal in order to qualify. If they do that and Spain also lose, Iran will finish first in the group. Both Portugal and Spain need a point to move onto the next stage. Spain can lose to Morocco and still qualify if Iran don’t beat Portugal (draw there and it’s up to goal difference). Portugal will only miss out on the next round if they lose. Same result for Portugal and Spain will mean tiebreakers go into effect.
Iran vs Portugal: While Iran have shown in both their matches they’re not to be disrespected, Portugal have shown to be extremely efficient whenever and wherever it counts. Another 1-0 win seems likely.
Spain vs Morocco: Unlike Iran, Morocco aren’t built to disturb Spain with tight, aggressive football. If the Moroccans can press high and efficiently early, we might see the Spaniards get into trouble but probably won’t happen. Spain win, more comfortably than against Iran.