According to the best offshore sportsbooks, the 2018 World Cup Group B will be a battle for Iberian supremacy. Spain is the odds-on fave to win the group, but peninsular neighborino Portugal isn’t too far behind. The Spaniards have historically been the more successful of the two. That includes actually winning a World Cup, in 2010. Something which the Portuguese have thus far failed to do. As a matter of fact, their previous best performance was third place in 1966. However, Spain seems to have peaked in 2012 and has been on a steady decline ever since. On the other hand, Portugal finished 2017 in third place in the FIFA World Rankings. They are currently ranked fourth, whilst Spain is ranked eighth.
Spain followed their best World Cup performance in 2010 with one of, if not their worst performance ever four years later. They were unceremoniously ousted in the group stage. In fact, they were eliminated before they even played their third game. That’s the swiftest exit for the defending champions since Italy in 1950. They fared comparatively better in the Euro 2016 (which previous edition they had also won). But not really that much better. As a result, Vicente del Bosque stepped down as manager. Hey, sometimes you can’t see del Bosque for the trees. Those were sad days. However, current manager Julen Lopetegui seems to have been able to turn that frown upside down. To wit, they recently crushed Argentina 6-1 in an international friendly.
The Navigators are playing their best football since the golden days of Eusebio. Portugal won its first ever major tournament, the Euro 2016, when they defeated France 1-0 in extra time. That earned them their first spot in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia the following year, where they placed third. Portugal’s go-to guy is of course Cristiano Ronaldo. CR7 joined Portugal’s camp in Cascais this Monday, fresh off a third straight Champions League victory. The arrival of Ronaldo will certainly be a shot in the arm of the Portuguese. Portugal is coming off two friendly draws, 2-2 against Tunisia and 0-0 versus Belgium. The Seleção das Quinas played without their captain and star on both occasions. It is worth noting, though, that even with Ronaldo, Portugal failed, like Spain, to reach the knockout stage in 2014.
The Lions of the Atlas are eager to restore their former glory. Morocco was the first African team to win a group at the World Cup. A group that coincidentally included Portugal. So there is a precedent for the Toronto Sun’s Kurtis W. Larson’s prediction that Morocco will upset Portugal. Of course, that precedent occurred in 1966. Therefore, the best offshore sportsbooks may not wholeheartedly agree with you there, Kurt. Moroccans are a proud people, though. For example, midfielder Sofyan Amrabat chose to play for the Lions of the Atlas. As opposed to the Netherlands, where he was born and raised. In fact, the Moroccan teams is the embodiment of the word homecoming. Four other players are Dutch-born. And their captain was born in France and plays in Italy.
Iran is one of the most successful national teams in Asia. They have won three Asian Cup championships and have reached the World Cup five times. However, their local success hasn’t translated into international recognition. Iran has never gone beyond the group stage in a World Cup. Moreover, they have only one World Cup win to their name. It’s not hard to see why the best offshore sportsbooks aren’t too high on Iran.
The above odds are courtesy of GTBets.eu; if not the best online sportsbook, it’s certainly among the better ones.