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  1. #1
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    Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

    World Cup 2018: Group B pits Portugal against Spain

    World Cup Group B is going to feature an Iberian derby of sorts, with both defending European Champions Portugal and 2010 World Cup winners Spain drawn into a group that could be tougher than it looks on the surface. That’s because the two megapowers of international football were drawn against Iran and Morocco, two smaller but very tough sides that will not make it easy for their bigger foes to get past them. It’s a tricky group, and one that’s likely going to go down to the wire before we know who’s making it to the knockout rounds.

    Portugal
    The reigning European champions qualified for Russia 2018 with ease, winning nine of 10 qualifiers and averaging more than three goals a game. But perhaps more significant was the manner of their Euro 2016 victory. Crudely put, Portugal decided that the best way to make progress in an international tournament was to prioritize 'not losing' over 'winning', then take things from there. They ended up lifting the trophy despite only managing one win inside 90 minutes, trusting extra time, penalty shootouts, and just a little good fortune to make the difference.

    We can probably expect something similar this time around, from a similar squad. Cristiano Ronaldo is still going ahead of what may be his last major tournament. On the younger end of things, Andre Silva hasn't made much of an impact in Serie A with AC Milan, but he's been prolific in the Europa League and scored nine in qualifying. Meanwhile, the exciting Bernardo Silva will have spent a year working with Pep Guardiola, though at the time of writing he hasn't cracked the Manchester City first team.

    Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo
    It's still him — even though he's now 70 percent sculpture, he's still one of the best finishers in the world. While the final of Euro 2016 demonstrated that the Portuguese don't necessarily need him on the pitch, his three goals in the competition were crucial, and he scored 15 in qualifying. Still got it.

    Spain
    This Spain team has the feel of one of those heist films where the old gang gets back together for one last job. While there is a small influx of younger talent that should feature prominently in this squad, including 25-year-old striker Alvaro Morata, midfielders Marco Asencio, Isco and Koke -- ages 21, 25 and 25, respectively -- the core of this team is still made up of the group that wowed the world for so much of the last decade-plus.

    Spain legends Sergio Ramos, Pique, Sergio Busquets, and David Silva, all aged 29 or older, should feature prominently in this squad, and 33-year-old Andres Iniesta, the hero of the 2010 World Cup, will want to end his international career in style. The task ahead for manager Julen Lopetegui is to successfully merge together the old and new, and to capture again some of the magic that saw Spain dominate international soccer for so long. If the right players are healthy, and the team comes together, the talent is here. But it is a strange situation -- if you told me they would go on to win the Final, I’d believe you, and if you told me they’d get bounced in the group stage without a win, I’d believe you as well.

    Key player: Sergio Ramos
    Ramos is the team captain and still one of the very few best defenders alive. This Spain team may not have quite the passing or attacking firepower it once had, but its defense is still one of the best in the world, and it will be on Ramos to lead the back four and keep the team in games. His work with Real Madrid has shown he’s capable of pulling together a defensive group and keeping clean sheets even when it seems everyone else on the team is only interested in going forward.

    Iran
    Fans might be looking at Iran and thinking they’re one of the easiest teams to draw from Pot 3, but opposing coaches will know better. Coach Carlos Queiroz has molded the Iranians into one of the most formidable defensive and direct counter-attacking units in international soccer, and they’re likely to prove extremely difficult for anyone to break down.

    Iran went undefeated in qualifying, where they had to play against a very good South Korea team, and only conceded two goals over 10 games. Iran are also unbeaten in their last 10 games in total, including friendlies. They’re probably the most direct team in the tournament, and you’re not going to see them stringing together many 30-pass moves. Iran likes to get the ball up to their talented strikers quickly and let them get to work.

    Key player: Sardar Azmoun
    22-year-old Azmoun was a prolific scorer throughout his youth career for Iran, and already has 22 senior goals. He was one off the leading scorers in Asian qualifying, scoring four times. He’s struggled in club play since moving to Rubin Kazan, though, and Iran will need him to enter the World Cup in better form than he’s in right now.

    Morocco
    Morocco have history when it comes to the World Cup. In 1986 they became the first African side to reach the knockout stages, winning a group containing Portugal, Poland, and England, and only losing narrowly to eventual champions West Germany. Then, in 1998, an exciting Moroccan side was only minutes away from making the last 16 again, only for Norway to steal a late winner against Brazil and send the Atlas Eagles home.

    Twenty years on, their return to the tournament has been underpinned by one of the most parsimonious defences in modern international football. After conceding one goal in a two-legged playoff against Equatorial Guinea, they went on to keep six clean sheets from six through their qualifying group. There were a few goals too, most notably a six-goal thrashing against Mali and a very impressive 2-0 away win against Cote d'Ivoire. Those who remember the 1998 team fondly will be delighted to see former Coventry City cult hero Mustapha Hadji on the bench, as assistant to experienced coach Herve Renard.

    Key player: Mehdi Benatia
    Morocco aren't entirely without attacking talent, but their defence was the story of qualification and Benatia was at the heart of the effort. Though not a regular at Juventus, he brings experience to the Moroccan backline, and will likely lead the team out as captain.

    Prediction
    Spain
    Portugal
    Morocco
    Iran

    https://www.sbnation.com/soccer/2017...n-iran-morocco


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  2. #2
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    I am looking forward to this group as wel on paper spain and portugals should advance but I feel their might just be an upset in this group and I'm sure if that's to occur it will shake things up for sure. I will take a risk and say that Morocco might beat Portugal in their match I can be wrong but a feeling I have

    predictions
    Spain
    Morocco
    Portugal
    Iran

  3. #3
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    Portugal and Spain to get through.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    Morocco have history when it comes to the World Cup. In 1986 they became the first African side to reach the knockout stages, winning a group containing Portugal, Poland, and England, and only losing narrowly to eventual champions West Germany
    West Germany didn’t win the 1986 World Cup. They were runners up to Argentina.


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nostalgic View Post
    West Germany didn’t win the 1986 World Cup. They were runners up to Argentina.
    I shouldn't have used SB Nation previews.


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    I shouldn't have used SB Nation previews.
    What do you expect for America? We didn't even make the WC.

  7. #7
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    Carvajal might be out of the Spain squad, looking at his injury tonight.
    Last edited by Abdullah719; 26th May 2018 at 22:12.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arham_PakFan View Post
    Carvajal might be out of the Spain squad, looking at his injury tonight.

    Bellerin or Juanfran could be called up. Azpilicutta and Nacho already in the squad.

  9. #9
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    Carvajal will be fit enough. Good news for Spain. Nacho is not bad either but just doesn't add much on the offense.


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  10. #10
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    Carvajal suffered a minor injury,will be fit within 3 weeks

  11. #11
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    Iran to win this..

  12. #12
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    World Cup: Nike boots barred for Iran footballers amid US sanctions

    Sportswear giant Nike says it has withdrawn its supply of boots to Iranian footballers ahead of the World Cup because of new US sanctions.

    The decision has frustrated Iranian players and head coach Carlos Queiroz, who asked Fifa to "help" his players.

    Last month, President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

    He vowed to reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

    Several major foreign companies have since announced they will suspend their activities in Iran.

    "US sanctions mean that, as a US company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time," the company said in a statement published by ESPN.

    "Sanctions applicable to Nike have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law."

    According to the US Treasury, any US entity found in violation of sanctions could face hefty fines.

    Queiroz, who has formerly coached Portugal and Real Madrid, told reporters: "Players get used to their sports equipment, and it's not right to change them a week before such important matches.

    "We are only managers and footballers, and should not get involved in such matters. But we are asking Fifa to help us with this."


    'National pride'

    A number of Iranians have started a campaign on social media to boycott Nike products in response, using the hashtag "No to Nike".

    "When Iran refuses to play against Israel it is political interference in sports, but when Nike refuses to supply boots to Iranian players due to sanctions, Fifa doesn't say a word," said one user on Twitter.

    In a widely-shared video, an Iranian man who described himself as a dentist threw a pair of Nike shoes in a bin, saying the company's decision was "an insult to my people and all football lovers".

    Another user said Iranian players should have pre-empted Nike by announcing they would no longer wear Nike boots. "There was a time our sportsmen were symbols of national pride. They have now become symbols of humiliation," he said.

    However, some Iranians say as a private US company, Nike had no other choice.

    "Nike is a private company and its only objective is to satisfy its shareholders. It is normal that it is withdrawing its supply of boots to Iran for fear of economic penalties," tweeted one user.

    "Nike is not a member of Fifa and does not have to follow its regulations. This is the impact of politics on trade rather than political interference in sport," said another.

    This is not the only inconvenience hampering Iran's World Cup preparations.

    Iran's football federation suspended relations with its Greek counterpart last month after a friendly between the two was cancelled amid tensions between Greece and Turkey.

    A second warm-up against Kosovo was also cancelled.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44457911


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  13. #13
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    Big Day for Group B

    Morocco vs Iran (Group B) - St Petersburg
    Portugal vs Spain (Group B) - Sochi


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  14. #14
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  15. #15
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  16. #16
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    What a game between Portugal and Spain.

  17. #17
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  18. #18
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    Heart break for morocco today gotta feel for them. Portugal vs Spain so far the game of the tournament

  19. #19
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    Name:  DgKQNWgWsAAB--k.jpg
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  20. #20
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    Portugal and Spain (should) and deserve to advance to the next group. Superior teams with better football.

  21. #21
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    Morocco played well but couldn't finish, that is what separates them from the big boys, regardless spain and portugal will go through and they deserve too

  22. #22
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  23. #23
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    So far, what I have seen, best strategy for Iran is to set their worst player to take out CR's knee cap at first chance - Iran actually is playing well enough to beat CR less Portugal (who are honestly speaking one man and 10 workmen team) with 10 men It's perfectly open group yet with Morocco only missing out unfortunately. They have been so unlucky so far that I expect luck to smile on their face in last game and they might surprise Spain (20 years back Nigeria did that).

    Iran needs to beat Portugal and that's probably best scenario for them. They were extremely cautious and tried to buy out a point, until Spain scored, only then they started to play soccer and actually out ran Spain. Spain is far better team than Portugal and CR has got every bit of luck running for him - I expect one bad game for both and if Iran can believe in themselves, it's possible to beat Portugal.

    Iran is playing 5-4-1 (or 4-5-1), using Sardar Azmaoun as sole forward, which I think is a bit defensive tactics for a side losing 1st game in last 4 years!!! Carlos Queiroz is a master tactician in attacking soccer and he should back his team to out score Portugal, rather than playing a narrow game where Portugal will always be favorite for CR - today they had one clear shot at goal and he scored for 1-0; Morocco probably had at least half a dozen - out paced, out run, out possessioned in every zone.

    Hardly anyone knows CR better than CQ for his time at MU and Portugal - he must find a way to mark CR, keeping him off the ball, rather than tackling him. Iran doesn't have the player for 1 on 1 man marking against CR; he needs to be frustrated from lack of feed, so that he starts to come down to fetch ball and move wide from his No. 9 role.

    Unexpected, but I'll support Iran to win it 2-1; though it means end of CR in WC.
    Last edited by MMHS; 21st June 2018 at 01:27.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMHS View Post
    So far, what I have seen, best strategy for Iran is to set their worst player to take out CR's knee cap at first chance - Iran actually is playing well enough to beat CR less Portugal (who are honestly speaking one man and 10 workmen team) with 10 men It's perfectly open group yet with Morocco only missing out unfortunately. They have been so unlucky so far that I expect luck to smile on their face in last game and they might surprise Spain (20 years back Nigeria did that).

    Iran needs to beat Portugal and that's probably best scenario for them. They were extremely cautious and tried to buy out a point, until Spain scored, only then they started to play soccer and actually out ran Spain. Spain is far better team than Portugal and CR has got every bit of luck running for him - I expect one bad game for both and if Iran can believe in themselves, it's possible to beat Portugal.

    Iran is playing 5-4-1 (or 4-5-1), using Sardar Azmaoun as sole forward, which I think is a bit defensive tactics for a side losing 1st game in last 4 years!!! Carlos Queiroz is a master tactician in attacking soccer and he should back his team to out score Portugal, rather than playing a narrow game where Portugal will always be favorite for CR - today they had one clear shot at goal and he scored for 1-0; Morocco probably had at least half a dozen - out paced, out run, out possessioned in every zone.

    Hardly anyone knows CR better than CQ for his time at MU and Portugal - he must find a way to mark CR, keeping him off the ball, rather than tackling him. Iran doesn't have the player for 1 on 1 man marking against CR; he needs to be frustrated from lack of feed, so that he starts to come down to fetch ball and move wide from his No. 9 role.

    Unexpected, but I'll support Iran to win it 2-1; though it means end of CR in WC.
    I feel the same, Iran are not an easy team to beat and will come in hard in this do or die game. Portugal are dependent on CR7 but why are they not playing Silva ? Their only other goal scorer and he did fine in the qualifiers. But despite a defeat to Iran I think Portugal can still qualify if Morocco beat Spain, they wont be a walk in the park either; two very interesting games with the same start time on the same day

  25. #25
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    KAZAN:A member of the Iran national team staff was hospitalised Wednesday after the team was denied a goal when video review held up an offside call in their World Cup match against Spain.

    Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not reveal the identity of the person, who felt ill after referee Andres Cunha disallowed Saeid Ezatolahi's goal. Cunha overturned the goal after an assistant referee and the video assistant signaled that the player was offside.

    Spain won the game 1-0.

    "We're more concerned because one member of our staff is in difficulties from a health point of view after the VAR decision," Queiroz said. "He went to the hospital. We hope everything will be all right. Our prayers go out to him at this moment."

    With three points from their opening win against Morocco, Iran can still qualify for the knockout round but will need to beat Portugal on Monday in Saransk.

    Spain and Portugal are tied for the Group B lead with four points each.

    http://www.espn.in/football/iran/sto...ain-disallowed

  26. #26
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    Morocco were such a good team. I feel more sorry for them than Argentina


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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by waqar goraya View Post
    Morocco were such a good team. I feel more sorry for them than Argentina
    Unfortunate they were in such a tough group, they probably would have qualified if they were in Argentina's group

  28. #28
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  29. #29
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    I had Morocco qualifying for next round they played some really good football shame they couldn't go through but Portugal and Spain are good teams so good for them and good luck to both as well

  30. #30
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    Iran waited till last 5 minutes to attack which did not make sense.

    The last minute miss was unforgiveable .....

    People thought this was an easy group but its probably the closest in terms of teams' performance.

    Not a single team is bad..

  31. #31
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    Iran and Morraco are much stronger than people thought. They gave a good showing.

  32. #32
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    damn; wanted Portugal to top Group B; now they will be eliminated by Uruguay in next round while Spain will beat Russia

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by srh View Post
    damn; wanted Portugal to top Group B; now they will be eliminated by Uruguay in next round while Spain will beat Russia
    that's good. No flukes in the quarter finals please.


    " Don't wait. The time will never be just right "

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hasan123 View Post
    Iran and Morraco are much stronger than people thought. They gave a good showing.
    Nope, Spain and Portugal are much weaker than people thought...Spanish defense is horrible, they left acres of space, how can you let weaker team score 2 goals when you had 75% of possession??

    Spain is lucky they would be facing Russia in next round. No such luck for Portugal, Uruguay is pretty good team, with two excellent strikers. It will be upset if Portugal beat Uruguay, which is second best team from South America...


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  35. #35
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    There’s no place for finesse in football these days . It’s just about brute strength. That’s why my team Spain is struggling.

  36. #36
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    This was probably the most evenly matched group.It was uncertain which 2 teams would qualify out of Spain,Portugal and Iran,until the very last second.

  37. #37
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    Kaliningrad, Russia - Spain coach Fernando Hierro said Monday his side must defend better after a last-ditch VAR-assisted equaliser earned them a 2-2 draw with Morocco and set up a second round clash with hosts Russia.

    The injury-time goal from substitute Iago Aspas capped a dramatic finale to a Group B that Spain ended up topping after Iran levelled late against Portugal to draw 1-1 in Saransk.

    But Hierro, himself a former centre back, said the team needed to work on its defence following a group stage that saw the 2010 winners ship five goals in three games.

    Spain supporters were overjoyed as they watched their team reach the World Cup knockout stages after snatching a 2-2 draw against Morocco.

    "Obviously we can improve. Five goals in three matches is not the way forward. The players are professional, they understand what the situation is," he told reporters.

    Morocco took the lead in the 14th minute when Khalid Boutaib took advantage of a horrible mix-up between Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta to race through and slide the ball calmly through David De Gea's legs.

    Things nearly got even worse for La Roja, when Boutaib missed a golden chance put Morocco ahead for a second time after Isco had pulled Spain level.

    The striker's low one-on-one shot was saved by De Gea after both Ramos and Gerard Pique were caught napping with a quick throw in.

    Hierro refused to single players out for criticism but promised his side would work collectively to shore things up at the back.

    "You cannot hold individuals responsible for letting goals in. Everyone needs to defend as a team and that's our style," he said.

    Isco's goal was straight out of Spain's World Cup winning playbook of 2010, with Diego Costa setting Iniesta free in the penalty area after some crisp one-touch passing.

    The Barcelona man cut back with the outside of his right boot to Isco, who fired into the roof of Monir El-Kajoui's net from six yards.

    "We're happy we've finished top of the group, that's what we wanted. Maybe we wanted to feel differently after the match but we're happy to go on. Now we are facing the moment of truth," Isco said.

    "I have complete faith in this team."

    'Continue the adventure'

    Morocco coach Herve Renard said before the game his team, the first to be eliminated this tournament, had been victim to "total injustice" in back-to-back 1-0 losses.

    "We would have loved to beat Spain," Renard said at full time. "We should be proud of what we've done, of the team and proud of the Moroccan public too."

    After a bright first half, Morocco sat back in the second period and invited Spain to try to break them down.

    When they regained possession they broke with pace and purpose, and nearly took the lead after 55 minutes when Noureddine Amrabat's right-foot scorcher from distance cannoned off the crossbar.

    Isco's header on the hour mark forced a goal-line clearance from Ghanem Saiss, chosen by Renard to start over captain Mehdi Benatia.

    Morocco were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time when the ball struck Pique's fist in the area.

    They weren't complaining minutes later, however, when substitute Youssef En-Nesyri headed home the corner that followed to the rapture of the Moroccan supporters.

    As the 90 minutes wound down, Aspas' clever flick from a corner was initially adjudged by the assistant referee to have been offside.

    But after intervention from VAR it was given as a goal, much to the consternation of the Moroccan players and substitutes, some of whom stormed the pitch in protest.

    Spain now play hosts Russia in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday and Hierro said his team would be ready.

    "We know it's going to be tough with their fans at home but we do want to continue the adventure," he said.

    https://www.sport24.co.za/Soccer/Wor...-draw-20180626
    Last edited by hadi123; 26th June 2018 at 10:06.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Q View Post
    There’s no place for finesse in football these days . It’s just about brute strength. That’s why my team Spain is struggling.
    It's not about finesse, Apart from Isco no one in Spain can dribble past defenders (Iniesta is on his last legs) and no one can make blistering runs into the opponent's D. This combined with an over-reliance on tiki taka and an average defence is making Spain struggle

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by battler View Post
    It's not about finesse, Apart from Isco no one in Spain can dribble past defenders (Iniesta is on his last legs) and no one can make blistering runs into the opponent's D. This combined with an over-reliance on tiki taka and an average defence is making Spain struggle
    I’m yet to see a team that passes the ball so well. Some of the long passes and the lofted diagonal passes are unbelievably good. Their defenders sometimes act as if they’re CFs which could be the reason behind poor defence. But I agree, this team is a mere shadow of the Spain of yesteryears.

    Many people support Germany these days, a team of bodybuilders (kidding)

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    Quote Originally Posted by yasir View Post
    Nope, Spain and Portugal are much weaker than people thought...Spanish defense is horrible, they left acres of space, how can you let weaker team score 2 goals when you had 75% of possession??

    Spain is lucky they would be facing Russia in next round. No such luck for Portugal, Uruguay is pretty good team, with two excellent strikers. It will be upset if Portugal beat Uruguay, which is second best team from South America...

    Spain have a good team. I think they are little confused with how they are trying to play. They want to play a possession game but have Costa starting who isn't a link up striker. Also Isco ball retention is good but he's not a tiki taka type player.

    Lol everyone knows Portugal aren't amazing .

    No one expected Iran to play as well as they did.

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    It was great that Silva was finally given a chance to start and he created some chances to, Portugal are not the best side in the tournament and while it has worked for them, they are just too defensive for me and it could cost them. There is some talent in the squad and should look to be a bit more positive, way too gun shy


    Ah, so this is what it feels like


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