Group H has brought quite a few surprises around. First, Poland surprisingly lost to Senegal albeit everyone thought the country may stand a slightly better chance of winning. It was quite the intense game with a fair bit of bitter disappointment for the fans of the country. Then again, underestimating Senegal was plainly wrong. We will see how things go in Group B, but let’s just circle back to a few matches from yesterday.
And so Senegal defeated Poland, rather convincingly, too! Senegal has pulled similar feats in the past, overwhelming France in 2002 at the opening match. And the event continued to surprise us all. Russia defeated Egypt with 3-1, scoring quickly as has become the team’s custom.
After a much-contested first goal, the other two points came quickly in the post of Egypt. Meanwhile, Russia seemed to misplay, intentionally holding down a footballer in the goal’s field in a bid to stop him from scoring. Well, that panned out differently, after the referee had decided to award a penalty shot, which led to the final score 3-1.
Now, Group B is back in the centre of our attention and we ought to ask ourselves what we expect and what we want from today’s games. After the draw between Spain and Portugal, we may fail to see as exciting a game, but there’s still hoping.
Portugal vs Morocco
Cristiano Ronaldo has managed to score 3 goals versus Spain, a feat that he will certainly be looking to brush up on, or failing that, add up to. Still, Portugal doesn’t underestimate Morocco, as shown by a recent press conference with the team’s coach Fernando Santos and defender Pepe. He commented on the strength of the opponents, saying:
“Morocco has a strong team and went through the final qualification round without conceding any goals. This means that they compete well and are well organised.”
The teams are already on the pitch and training for the upcoming meet-up at 14:00 Moscow time today. Morocco has so far only lost one game to Iran, which definitely doesn’t bode well for the team going up against Portugal. Still, chances are they will put a fight, and possibly even win.
Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia
For all, it’s worth Uruguay, managed to score 1 goal against Egypt and are now ahead in the race. They are facing an opponent who’s had a fairly rotten start at the competition, with the Saudis losing 5 goals to Russia in a 90-minute game, 3 of which occurred in the last 8 minutes of the game. Looking back at things we have said about Russia here, as the team being withdrawn and inexperienced, we stand embarrassingly corrected. Russia has definitely breezed through so far in the competition.
Back to Uruguay, though, we expect the team to ride high and overwhelm its opponents. Saudi Arabia has slim chances of winning, albeit they may have learnt a thing or two from their last performance. The Saudi’s striker has been quite undetermined in his play with the ball and exhibited a fairly passive stance, albeit he supported his teammates’ efforts to defend the goal.
With this in mind, Saudi Arabia will have quite the rough time of improving on its play in the competition.
Iran vs Spain
Spain has managed a brilliant game against Portugal. Even though we’d argue that the penalty shot for Portugal was rather unfair, Spain managed to rally magnificently and stayed the dominant team throughout the game, but still conceded a final draw. Now the country will go up against Iran in Group B.
It’s not surprising that Iranians are on pins and needles. Spain is no casual team. The Spanish football machinery seems to be primed down to the last errant cogwheel. We seriously expect Spain to overwhelm Iran, despite the Iranian’s achievement against Morocco. What bothers us still is that Iran actually didn’t score its own goal, which was the result of a display of a Moroccan defender.
Still, if Iran manages to draw or even score a victory against Spain, this will send ripples across the whole group and that will be well worth seeing. We are looking forward to the next instalment of Group B in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.