2018 World Cup Group B Expert Betting Picks
Despite all the attacking prowess and big names, I wouldn't expect a lot of goals from Group B.
Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Iran combined to allow just four goals in 36 combined qualifying matches prior to the World Cup. Spain and Portugal each have world-class defenders manning their back line, while Morocco and Iran can be effective playing a turtle-in-its-shell style that relies on frustrating opponents and counterattacking.
The 2018 World Cup will take place in Russia from June 14 to July 15. Russia will host this year's quadrennial event, and current 2018 World Cup betting odds and odds to win the World Cup are currently posted at all offshore and Las Vegas sportsbooks.
Here is my 2018 World Cup Group B preview:
Odds To Win Group B: -210
Odds To Advance: -1200
Odds To Win World Cup: +325
Spain Group B Predictions: After an era of domination from 2008-2012 unprecedented in modern soccer, Spain enters Russia as somewhat of an afterthought. That is due in part to their horrific showing in Brazil four years ago, when La Roja entered as one of the favorites and then failed to win a single match. They weren't any more impressive in Euro 2016, and now punters are on the fence about what this team's ceiling really is.
Bu let's be clear: this is one of the best sides in the tournament. Their back five is world class. And Spain's ball-control style usually leads to them dominating and dictating every match they play. And if you're unsure about their firepower, look no further than a 6-1 thrashing of Argentina back in March.
If Spain wins this group then they are in the catbird seat. They would play the runner-up in weak Group A. And then their quarterfinal opponent would likely either be a rematch with Argentina or a game versus Denmark. Either way, I think that anything short of a semifinal appearance for La Roja would be a second straight World Cup underachievement.
Odds To Win Group B: +195
Odds To Advance: -500
Odds To Win World Cup: +1100
Portugal Group B Predictions: The Portuguese are the reining European champions and boast one of the greatest players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo. That has them on the radar as a popular sleeper pick to win this title, which would cement Ronaldo's legacy among the all-time greats.
However, I am not as high on this Portugal side. This team is perpetually overvalued because of Ronaldo. They flamed out in the group stage in 2014, and they lost their first game in the knockout round in 2010. They were also mere minutes away from an implosion in the group stage of Euro 2016 before they got lucky, then got hot.
I know I am in the minority here, but I don't trust or like this team. They do have a soft bottom of the group so they could follow their Euro 2016 blueprint of backing into the knockout round. But if Portugal loses to Spain, a rival and their opening opponent, then there is a chance that this team might not recover. It would be a serious upset if they don't advance.
Odds To Win Group B: +1600
Odds To Advance: +350
Odds To Win World Cup: +15000
Morocco Group B Predictions: The Moroccans are a very interesting unit. More than 60 percent of the players on this club were born outside the country. That means that the Moroccans play a blend of styles from France, the Netherlands and Spain. This team has an excellent manager, Herve Renard, and a rock-solid defense that didn't concede a goal in qualifying.
Morocco likely needs to beat Iran in the opening game if they want to advance. But they also get to face Portugal in a potential letdown spot in both squads' second match. Some combination of four points in those two games would give them life going into their final with Spain, who may or may not be resting players in that one since they could be locked in the No. 1 seed.
Odds To Win Group B: +3300
Odds To Advance: +500
Odds To Win World Cup: +20000
Iran Group B Predictions: As far as bottom teams, Iran is about as tough of a No. 4 as you will find in any group at the World Cup. This is their second straight World Cup appearance and Iran's third in the last four. In four career finals appearances they have just one win and three draws. But they nearly took out Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, and Iran has a little edge to them as they head to Russia.
Iran is a very defensive-oriented team that will play on its back foot and look to counter attack. They conceded only one goal in qualifying - in their final match - and this team can definitely frustrate opponents. They have been the highest-rated Asian team for the past four years, they have an excellent coach, and this team isn't just happy to be here. They have a realistic shot at advancement.
The winner of the Iran-Morocco opener will have an outstanding opportunity to qualify. If Iran manages to pull at least a point from that game then they should at least be in the mix heading into their third match against Portugal.
Group B Predicted Order Of Finish:
ROBERT FERRINGO is one of the top all-sports handicappers in the country and will be releasing rated selections in the 2018 World Cup this June and July. Robert has posted back-to-back winning World Cups (2010 and 2014) and went on an insane +$4,700 run with his plays in Euro 2016. Sign up for his plays here .
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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