The second round of Group B play in the World Cup concludes on Wednesday afternoon when one of the tournament favorites, Spain, takes on minnow Iran. The Spaniards, off a thrilling but disappointing draw in their opener, are huge 2018 World Cup betting favorites at MyBookie Sportsbook.
2018 World Cup Odds & Expert Pick: Iran vs. Spain
Sergi Roberto: “I wish my Barcelona teammates good luck at the World Cup.”
– Sergi did not wish good luck to the national team, Spain, as a reaction to not being included in the World Cup squad. pic.twitter.com/q7k3quK2KF
— Barca Universal (@BarcaUniversal) 15 de junio de 2018
- When: Wednesday, 2 PM ET
- Where: Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia
- TV / Stream: Fox / Fox Sports Go
- 2018 World Cup Odds: Spain -526 / Iran +1300 / Draw +540 (Total at 3 goals)
Why Bet on Iran?
- Confederation: AFC
- Head coach: Carlos Queiroz
- Captain: Masoud Shojaei
- FIFA Ranking: 37
Should the Iranians pull the massive upset here, they probably will advance because they already took three points in their opener from Morocco. Iran took that game 1-0 in the country’s first World Cup match since 1998 as Aziz Bouhaddouz’s 95th-minute own goal sunk Morocco in St Petersburg. This is the first time ever that Iran will have gone into a FIFA World Cup game as the leader of their opening round group.
After creating little and enjoying just 32 percent possession, Iran got their lucky break with almost the last kick when Bouhaddouz put an unstoppable near-post header past his own goalkeeper when attempting to defend a free-kick.
Iran did not muster a single attempt in the second half and was the first team since 1966 to score in a half of World Cup football without attempting a shot on goal. Morocco only conceded one goal in their eight qualifying games, while Iran had let in just five in their 18 Asian qualifiers. It was even more unlikely of a win because Iran was missing the calming influence of suspended midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi.
FIFA imposed a two-game suspension on the 21-year-old Ezatolahi for his red card against South Korea in a qualifying match in Seoul on Aug. 31. Ezatolahi brought his boot down on the head of South Korea midfielder Kim Min-Jae, who had fallen facing the turf after the two clashed in an aerial challenge. The first game of Ezatolahi’s suspension was served by missing a 2-2 draw with Syria five days later, which completed Iran’s qualifying program. Ezatolahi plays with Amkar Perm, on loan from Russian league rival Rostov.
Iran also suffered a key injury in the opening win as Roozbeh Cheshmi will miss at least this match. Team officials have verified the sad news that his injury is more significant than first thought and is expected to miss the remainder of the group stage. He is going to stay with the team, however, and start his treatment in Russia.
- 1-A. Al Maiouf
- 3-O. Hawsawi
- 13-Y. Al Shahrani
- 5-O. Hawsawi
- 6-M. Al Burayk
- 17-T. Al Jassim
- 8-Y. Al Shehri
- 7-S. Al Faraj
- 18-S. Al Dawsari
- 14-A. Otayf
- 10-M. Al Sahlawi
Why Bet on Spain?
- Confederation: UEFA
- Head coach: Fernando Hierro
- Captain: Sergio Ramos
- FIFA Ranking: 10
This will be the first encounter between the two sides. However, Iran has traditionally struggled against UEFA competition at the World Cup, having lost five and only drawn one against previous European opposition.
Spain dominated Portugal in the opening match but drew 3-3 as Cristiano Ronaldo had a hat trick, including the late tying goal on a free kick. A thrilling clash in Sochi saw Ronaldo twice put Portugal in front, Diego Costa twice equalizes for Spain, then Nacho Fernandez appears to win it for La Roja with a long-range strike before Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a 20-yard free-kick late on.
David De Gea was badly at fault for Ronaldo’s second goal, letting a 20-yard shot go straight through his body and into the net after the Manchester United goalkeeper had also made a similar error in a warm-up friendly last week.
Given all the turmoil during a week which saw Fernando Hierro step in after former national coach Julen Lopetegui was fired for agreeing to take over at Real Madrid after the tournament, the new boss said that he was happy the team had stepped up and showed their personality.
“The team showed they could lift themselves up, got ourselves ahead twice, and against somebody capable of doing what Cristiano did we must be happy [with the result],” Hierro said. “With everything that happened the team did not stop believing, fought hard, showed personality. That is very important with all that has happened. We have taken an important step forward, moved on from the adversities.”
Hierro has given De Gea his full backing ahead of Wednesday’s encounter with Iran, despite fans voting in favor of Kepa Arrizabalaga taking his place in the team.
“I have very clear ideas and I know what path we have to follow. My experience tells me that sportsmen need to be given confidence not just in the good times,” the coach said.
A Marca poll carried out at the weekend which asked readers which goalkeeper should start for La Roja had 160,000 votes cast, with Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga receiving 49 percent to De Gea’s 41 percent. Carlos Marchena, who joined Spain’s staff for the World Cup last week following Hierro’s appointment as coach after the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, says De Gea has the full support of his teammates.
Costa started in attack and Nacho at right-back in Hierro’s first starting lineup. Nacho was preferred to Alvaro Odriozola at right-back, with Dani Carvajal still not deemed fully fit after suffering an injury playing for Real in last month’s Champions League final.
Costa scored with his first two shots on target at the World Cup. The Atletico Madrid striker has scored eight goals in his last eight international starts for Spain. Spain has now won their opening World Cup match in just two of their last 13 tournaments (D4 L7 – 2002, 2006).
- 1-D. de Gea
- 15-S. Ramos
- 3-G. Piqué
- 18-J. Alba
- 2-D. Carvajal
- 6-A. Iniesta
- 21-D. Silva
- 5-S. Busquets
- 19-D. Costa
Expert Final Prediction
Spain 2 – Iran 0