There are no easy games as the World Cup hits the knockout stage. As the winners of Group A, Uruguay will play the runners up of Group B, likely to be Portugal or Spain. Uruguay cemented their dominance over Group A by beating the hosts Russia in their final game. The other two teams, Egypt and Saudi Arabia played out a loser’s battle in the other game.
Later on June 25, Spain plays Morocco while Portugal plays Iran. Spain and Portugal are level on points and goal difference meaning that it’s a straight shoot out between those two rivals to see who can avoid Luis Suarez and Uruguay. There is a chance that Iran could squeeze into the next round if they could defeat Portugal and hope that Spain does not beat Morocco. Iran could even tie their game and hope Morocco beats Spain by more than one goal and advance into the next round to play Uruguay. The only permutation that sends Spain out of the tournament would be a big defeat against Morocco, followed by an Iran win over Portugal.
The second round game featuring Uruguay will be played at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Russia gets an extra day off, playing on July 1 against the winners of Group A in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
With Spain, Portugal and Uruguay all having serious designs on winning the 2018 World Cup, it won’t have escaped any of their coaches’ minds how much easier it is to win your group. In Group B, the winner will face Russia, possibly Croatia in the quarter finals and then they are into the semi-finals where anything can happen. Finishing second in Group B, would send that team on a collision course with Uruguay, either Germany or Brazil, followed by, in all likelihood, France.