Drama was high for Spain, even before the tournament started. But now that games have begun, the drama is on the field, and the Spaniards have work to do in Group B if they want to make a deep run at the World Cup.
Spain showed their veteran presence in the opener, as they twice trailed Ronaldo and Portugal and twice responded. After taking a 3-2 lead late in the action, Ronaldo rescued Portugal with a free kick in the dying moments. It was a hard-earned point for both teams, and sets the stage for two massive games if Spain want to avoid a massive disappointment.
How Spain Advances
It’s pretty simple: Spain should easily advance by winning their next two games. Playing against Morocco and Iran, Spain will be a heavy favorite against both teams.
Spain plays an ideal brand of football for dispatching lesser teams. They love possession, have amazing passing, and have a target striker in the final third. Diego Costa went toe-to-toe with Ronaldo in the opener, scoring a brace in the draw.
At the other end of the pitch, David de Gea did not have a strong opener against Portugal. He was beaten by Ronaldo on a penalty and a free kick, but his goal allowed between the two sticks out the most. De Gea let a low shot slip by his hands to make it 2-1 to Portugal, a mistake that would be devastating to some of the more defensive teams in the tournament.
Back in Spain, former keeper Iker Casillas showed sympathy for de Gea in the situation.
“For making a small error you cannot put him in the eye of a hurricane,” Casillas told MARCA.”Cristiano has a clean shot above all with his left foot. He shot quickly and the ball could have changed direction.”
How Spain Can Be Eliminated
With that being said, de Gea cannot be a liability moving forward in the tournament. Despite their lack of prestige, Morocco is a tough defensive team that gave Portugal all they could handle. And if Spain somehow loses to Morocco, they could be in serious risk of missing out on the knockout rounds.
First things first: Spain must take care of Iran. Morocco dominated possession against Iran, then gifted them three points by way of 95th minute own goal. Iran didn’t record a shot in the second half. Spain is a massive favorite, and a win would put them even atop Group B with Portugal.
Potential Group B Standings (If Spain beats Iran)
If the predictable result plays out, then Spain should be in good shape to at least advance out of Group B. But then there’s Morocco, who have won two games on paper and have zero points to show for it. They outshot Portugal 16-10, and led in corners and possession. That’s after holding 86 percent possession against Iran.
All things considered, Morocco may be having the worst luck in the tournament. If Spain need a positive result against them in the finale, it could be easier said than done.
The worst thing Spain can do is leave the door ajar. Winning twice would seal the deal, but anything less leaves room for Iran to make a massive World Cup surprise. Think about this- if Portugal is in, but a draw against Iran would eliminate Spain, do you think they’ll play aggressive?