Preview: FIFA World Cup Group B

As the countdown to the FIFA World Cup continues, attention now turns to one of the more competitive clusters in Group B.

Russia should heat up when nations collide in Group B, with teams like Portugal and Spain headlining the crowd, while Morocco and Iran are hoping to gain crucial points that could result in big upsets.

With only two spots reserved for Group B and four teams fighting, these are short snippets on the squads representing the group and how they may fare in the competition.

SPAIN

The most successful nation in Group B, much is expected from the La Roja as they try to revive their hopes of being a national powerhouse.

Winning the competition in 2010, paired with a 2012 triumph in the European Championships, many believed that Spain could be forces for years to come. Unfortunately, a poor performance in the 2014 World Cup and 2014 Euros started a dip in their quality.

Moving on from Vicente Del Bosque to current boss Julen Lopetegui has revived the squad and their younger players appear to be ready for the big stage in Russia.

However, Andres Iniesta may still be the player to watch for the Spaniards as he is likely to be playing his final year in the national team and should play inspired to lift the nation throughout the competition.

MOROCCO

Looking at their history in the competition, Morocco seems to be a nation who thrives in the World Cup.

Their list of accolades include being the first African team to reach the knockout stages in 1986 and were so close in 1998 when they faced Norway. They were minutes away from reaching the last-16 before a late goal saw them crash out of the competition.

This year, Morocco have young players who can make a difference such as Hakim Ziyech and Younes Belhanda, while experienced manager Herve Renard will undoubtedly demand the best from his squad.

Nabil Dirar should be the player to watch for Morocco as the versatile midfielder has had success in club level and may elevate his game in the international scene.

IRAN

Establishing their dominance in the Asian football scene, Iran were the first to qualify for the World Cup in their region.

Their continued improvement was seen in their unbeaten run across the two rounds of qualifying – which spans 18 total matches.

They will be trying to erase their previous outing in the World Cup as they went unbeaten in the 2014 competition, but an inspired team vows to make their presence felt in the competition.

Sardar Azmoun of Rubin Kazan should be the player to watch for the Iranians as he has emerged as a potent striker, already netting 22 international goals for the country.

PORTUGAL

The European champions are looking to extend their success in the World Cup, and they still have the talent to see them through in the competition.

Portugal have shown that they have the talent outside Cristiano Ronaldo as shown in their European Championship run. With CR7 going down early through injury, many counted the Portuguese out of the final against host France, but the underdogs persevered and were claimed champions.

However, the fact is that the team still runs through the Real Madrid star. Already at 32 years old, his window to win a World Cup title is steadily closing, and his performances in Russia may be the last chance for the star.

With Ronaldo as the center of attention, players like Pepe and Joao Moutinho should step up to help their compatriot if they want to go far in Russia.

TEAMS TO GO THROUGH

In this group, winners appear to be clear cut as Portugal and Spain are undoubted favourites to move on in the cluster.

There may be little surprises and challenges from Morocco and Iran, but it is extremely difficult to fathom teams outside the Europeans to move on in the competition.

The remaining question is who will finish atop the table and as runners-up of Group B.

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