World Cup Group B Preview


Best XI:

GK: Alireza Beiranvand, 25, Persepolis (Iran)

LB: Milad Mohammadi, 24, Grozny (Russia)

LCB: Morteza Pouraliganji, 26, Al-Saad (Qatar)

RCB: Pejman Montazeri, 34, Esteghal (Iran)

RB: Ramin Rezaeian, 28, KV Oostende (Holland)

CDM: Omid Ebrahimi, 30, Esteghlal (Iran)

LM: Ehsan Hajsafi, 28, Olympiacos (Greece)

RM: Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 24, AZ Alkmaar (Holland)

CAM: Masoud Shojaei, 34, AEK Athens (Greece)

LS: Sardar Azmoun, 23, Rubin Kazan (Russia)

RS: Karim Ansarifard, 28, Olympiacos (Greece)

Analysis: This is the best Iran has ever looked, and they have difference-makers this year in striker Sardar Azmoun and winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh. Super-sub striker Reza Ghoochannejhad lit up the World Cup four years ago, and with a weak defense and midfield corps, Iran needs superb attacking play and probably a good amount of luck and magic to advance out of a group featuring Portugal and Spain.


Best XI:

GK: Bono, 27, Girona (Spain)

LB: Hamza Mendyl, 20, Lille (France)

LCB: Mehdi Benatia, 31, Juventus (Italy)

RCB: Roman Saiss, 28, Wolverhampton (England)

RB: Achraf Hakimi, 19, Real Madrid (Spain)

LDM: Karim El Ahmadi, 33, Feyenoord (Holland)

RDM: Youssef Bennasser, 22, Monaco (France)

LAM: Younes Belhanda, 28, Galatasaray (Turkey)

CAM: Hakim Ziyech, 25, Ajax (Holland)

RAM: Amine Harit, 21, Schalke (Germany)

ST: Nordin Amrabat, 31, Watford (England)

Analysis: It's been 20 years since Morocco last played in a World Cup, and they certainly have some talented players in 2018. Mehdi Benatia is a world-class Center Back, Hakim Ziyech and Younes Belhanda are quality midfielders and they have three rising stars in Achraf Hakimi, Youssef Bennasser and Amine Harit. Morocco's biggest weakness is their lack of a true striker, an issue that will find it extremely hard for them to take points away from Spain and Portugal. It's going to take a few career-best performances from Moroccan attackers to have any chance at advancing out of Group B.


Best XI:

GK: Rui Patricio, 30, Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)

LB: Raphael Guerreiro, 24, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

LCB: Pepe, 35, Besiktas (Turkey)

RCB: Jose Fonte, 34, Dalian Yifang (China)

RB: Ricardo Pereira, 24, Porto (Portugal)

LCM: William Carvalho, 26, Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)

RCM: Adrien Silva, 29, Leicester City (England)

CAM: Bruno Fernandes, 23, Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)

LW: Goncalo Guedes, 21, Paris SG (France)

ST: Cristiano Ronaldo, 33, Real Madrid (Spain)

RW: Bernardo Silva, 23, Manchester City (England)

Analysis: Portugal's 23-man roster is so stocked, it's almost impossible to pick a best XI. Gelson Martins, Joao Moutinho and Joao Mario could all be switched into this lineup with zero talent drop-off. The Euro 2016 Champs, led by a fully healthy Cristiano Ronaldo, should have absolutely no problem advancing out of Group B. Anything less than a Semifinal appearance should be considered a disappointment with how much talent is available here. If any team is talented enough to knock off Germany, the defending World Cup Champions, it's this Portugal squad.


Best XI:

GK: David De Gea, 27, Manchester United (England)

LB: Jordi Alba, 29, Barcelona (Spain)

LCB: Gerard Pique, 31, Barcelona (Spain)

RCB: Sergio Ramos, 32, Real Madrid (Spain)

RB: Dani Carvajal, 26, Real Madrid (Spain)

LDM: Thiago, 27, Bayern Munich (Germany)

RDM: Sergio Busquets, 29, Barcelona (Spain)

LAM: Andres Iniesta, 34, Vissel Kobe (Japan)

CAM: Isco, 26, Real Madrid (Spain)

RAM: David Silva, 32, Manchester City (England)

ST: Diego Costa, 29, Atletico Madrid (Spain)

Analysis: Spain has the best midfield in the world. Julen Lopetegui gets to pick from Iniesta, Isco, David Silva, Thiago, Sergio Busquets, Saul, Koke, and Marco Asensio. Are you kidding me? Dani Carvajal is questionable for Spain's first match, meaning they might have to field Cesar Azpilicueta or Alvaro Odriozola at Right Back against Cristiano Ronaldo & co. Like Portugal, anything short of the Semifinals should be considered a disappointment, especially considering they have David De Gea, the best goalie on the planet right now. It's not too risky to put money on Spain winning it all.