Egypt v Uruguay to win (1pm) – Group A
Morocco to win or draw v Iran (4pm) – Group B
Portugal v Spain to win (7pm) – Group B
This World Cup 2018: Friday 15 June Acca has three selections with one double chance shout and two outright wins for the group favourites.
Uruguay have the early kick-off on this second day of the world cup after the anti-climax of Russia opening up. The Saudis will be packing their bags after that display. Egypt v Uruguay screams goals and attacking talent. You can’t think of many defenders between the two sides but try and think of better strikers than Salah, Suarez and Cavani who will all be featuring in this battle. Cavani scored more than any other South American in the qualification games. You have to feel for Salah because he literally carries the Egyptians and they are yet to face a quality side. Uruguay have a bit about them and should open their account against a spirited Egypt.
Morocco are the draw specialists which is why we have them down for a double chance. They went unbeaten during the CAF qualifying campaign and did not concede a goal across their six matches. Defensively they are organised and extremely disciplined. But goals are an issue. They started their qualification slowly, drawing three of their first four matches 0-0. The highlight of qualifying was a Hakim Ziyech-inspired 6-0 demolition of Mali in September, and they secured their spot in Russia by beating Gabon 3-0 in their penultimate game. Iran are no slouches but they rarely face decent opposition. Goals are always an issue – their top scorer is a winger – but they are organised and always give 100% effort. A draw seems quite likely but if Morocco can score then a win for them is an easy shout.
Spain to get off to a winning start
Spain are our tip to win the tournament and a lot of eyes will be on this opener against a talented Portugal side. This is huge. Let’s start with Portugal. They obviously have one of the best players in the world in their ranks. Ronaldo is incredible and he nearly always steps up on the big occasions. It is no coincidence that their only loss in qualification was a game when Ronaldo was injured. After that, Portugal won all their remaining matches to top the group and qualify automatically for Russia. They scored 32 goals and conceded only two in the next nine games. Ronaldo and Andre Silva struck up a superb partnership, scoring 24 goals between them. Ronaldo has smashed the records for Portugal’s national team (148 caps, 81 goals and counting), which surely won’t ever be beaten.
However, if Spain can nullify Portugal’s main man then this could be a walkover. Spain have quality all over the pitch. Spain sailed through qualification, winning nine and drawing one of their ten games while scoring 36 goals and conceding just three. Doesn’t get much more convincing than that.
Former manager Lopetegui blended new players, including Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio and Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez, with the experienced core. Despite his sacking, the quality remains in the squad and the circumstances may bring them closer.
The standout performance in qualification was the 3-0 win over Italy in September at the Bernabeu, where Madrid’s Isco scored twice in a comprehensive 3-0 victory. Isco will be one to watch this tournament as he reaches his prime.
Veteran midfielders Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and David Silva will be key to their tournament and their experience should pay dividends. Also, their defence looks rock solid with Ramos, Pique in front of the best goalkeeper in the world, David De Gea. This surely has to go Spain’s way.
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