Spain Needs A Win Over Plucky Iran

Jun 19, 2018 6:52 PM EDT

Iran vs. Spain, 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Fox

  • Iran +1819
  • Spain -467
  • Draw +575

Bet to Watch:

Spain -2 +113 (Bookmaker)

Group B is one of the most interesting sets in the World Cup. After one round of matches, Iran sits atop the group with three points while Iberian neighbors Spain and Portugal are tied with one point and Morocco — a popular dark-horse pick — are at the foot of the table with 0 points.

Iran’s 1-0 upset of Morocco came on a stoppage-time own goal, so the Lions of Persia are a bit lucky to be in the pole position but they gave a good account of themselves last week, and to say they lucked out is not fair. While Morocco had most of the ball against Iran, the Persians were organized in the middle of the field and didn’t allow many good opportunities.

Spain, meanwhile, can be forgiven for feeling hard done by in their opener. La Furia Roja dominated the game but were undone by three goals by Cristiano Ronaldo — one from the penalty spot, one that was bobbled in by goalkeeper David De Gea (considered the best in the world by many) and another from a very late free kick. The Spanish dictated the tempo for most of the match, and their attacking flair was on full display.

According to the odds, Iran is still an outsider to advance from Group B. At Bookmaker they are +285, behind Spain (-1450) and Portugal (-550), so they’ll most likely need at least a point in their last two games to get through. Iran will do everything in their power to make life difficult on Spain by packing the midfield and getting 10 men behind the ball at all times. Spain have the ability to pick apart a defensive side with their passing, so the task ahead of the Lions of Persia is a steep one.

Spain should have goals in them. Iran’s backline will make life hard on the Spanish attackers, but Diego Costa is not one to be deterred by physicality and should be able to provide enough space for the likes of Isco and David Silva to work their magic atop the 18-yard box.

Iran’s only hope of scoring in this one is from a set piece or a quick counter, but I don’t expect them to find the onion bag, so instead I like Spain to turn this into a bit of a clinic.

Follow Michael J. Leboff on Twitter
@TheBigLeebowski

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