2018 World Cup: Day 7 Preview

We’re officially into the second round of Group matches at the 2018 World Cup and the action continues tonight.

Cristiano Ronaldo will lead the line for Portugal against Morocco, before Uruguay look to gain passage into the knockout stage by beating Saudi Arabia. Iran and Spain lock horns in the final match of the night.

Portugal vs Morocco (10pm)
Ronaldo 1st Goal Scorer ($3.40)

The second appearance of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo headlines tonight’s Group B match between Portugal and Morocco in Moscow.

The Real Madrid attacker single-handedly forced a draw with fierce rivals Spain in the Portugal’s campaign-opener; netting three goals in a best on ground performance that also saw him skip out to an early lead in the race to the Golden Boot. Manager Fernando Santos has been glowing in his praise for Portugal’s North African rivals this week and will start his strongest team tonight, in a bid to all but confirm passage into the knockout stage.

Morocco are a decent outfit and are clearly one of Africa’s best prospects, but they are already behind the 8-ball following their Matchday 1 defeat to Iran. The key to Morocco competing effectively in this match is clearly silencing Ronaldo, but that is easier said than done and it could prove to be impossible.

Morocco will treat this match like a final, but they probably lack the class to withstand the Portuguese attack.

Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia (1am)
Over 3 Goals Scored ($2.05)

Saudi Arabia will attempt to restore some pride in their jersey when they tackle Group A favourites Uruguay in Rostov.

It proved-to-be the toughest imaginable start for Saudi Arabia when the leaked five goals to host nation Russia in the tournament opener and given the calibre of their other opponents in Group A, it probably confirmed their exit. They now have their hands full in containing an even more potent attack, rich with names likes Suarez and Cavani. The Green Falcons will look to defend with almost every player behind the ball and their chances will undoubtedly come on the counter.

Uruguay’s game plan seemed to go out the window as failed attempt after failed attempt plagued their performance against Egypt. They were forced to wait until the 89th minute to break the deadlock and if they are to ensure passage into the knockout stage, they need to tighten up. Manager Oscar Tabarez has confirmed two changes to his starting side for this match; midfielders Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez called in, in an attempt to settle the nerves and create better chances on-goal.

At their best, there are few attacks more potent than Uruguay’s and we could be set for a high-scoring fixture.

Iran vs Spain (4am)
Diego Costa 1st Goal Scorer ($3.75)

A vital Group B fixture will take place in Kazan early tomorrow morning when Iran clash with 2010 World Cup winners Spain.

Incredibly, Iran lead Group B heading into the second matchday but it will only continue to get harder for the Asian qualifiers. They were clearly the standouts through qualifying in the AFC and were deserving winners of a match at this World Cup, albeit against the other group minnows. The key to competing with Spain will lie with Iran’s ability to hold passion and starve the likes of Iniesta and Isco.

Spain boast easily one of the best and most complete teams at the 2018 World Cup on paper, but they failed to close out their first match with Portugal and take a little more pressure into this match. Striking on the counter will probably be their best chance of getting on the scoresheet, but they wont be given as much space and as many opportunities as they were by Morocco.

Diego Costa was outstanding against Portugal and the striker will look to keep up in the race to the World Cup Golden Boot.