World Cup 2018 Standings: Predicting Monday's Scores, Results and Updated Tables

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2018

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo goes for the ball during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Spain can win Group B by beating Morocco in Kaliningrad at the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Monday. La Roja could condemn Portugal to second place on goal difference, even though Cristiano Ronaldo will help the UEFA Euro 2016 winners edge past a stubborn Iran side in Saransk.

Top spot is up for grabs in Group A, something Uruguay can achieve with a win over Russia. However, the hosts have been in free-scoring form and won't yield easily at the Samara Arena.

       

Monday's Schedule

  • Uruguay vs. Russia, 6 p.m. local time (3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET)
  • Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt, 5 p.m. local time (3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET)
  • Spain vs. Morocco, 8 p.m. local time (7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET)
  • Iran vs. Portugal, 9 p.m. local time (7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET)

      

Predicted Tables

Group A (Played, Goal Difference, Points)

1. Russia: 3, +7, 7

2. Uruguay: 3, +2, 7

3. Egypt: 3, -1, 3

4. Saudi Arabia: 3, -8, 0

       

Group B

1. Spain: 3, +3, 7

2. Portugal: 3, +2, 7

3. Iran: 3, -1, 3 

4. Morocco: 3, -4, 0

      

Uruguay 1-1 Russia

Uruguay put themselves in position to win the group by beating Saudi Arabia last time out. The game saw Luis Suarez regain his scoring touch after a series of costly misses during a win over Egypt.

Suarez is back among the goals.
Suarez is back among the goals.EMMANUEL DUNAND/Getty Images

Suarez and fellow striker Edinson Cavani are good enough to dent any defence in the tournament. However, La Celeste may struggle to contain a Russia side playing fluid football through two matches.

The hosts have scored eight goals thanks largely to ingenuity in midfield. Denis Cheryshev has helped himself to three goals, while Aleksandr Golovin adds craft, as well as magic from set pieces.

In addition to their industry and skill in the middle, Russia have a prolific player up top in the form of Artem Dzyuba. The 29-year-old has scored in his last two matches and is a good bet to add to his tally.

Neither side will exert too much with qualification already assured. Uruguay have the match-winners up front, but their midfield is workmanlike in comparison to Russia's schemers.

Dzyuba can provide more goals for Russia.
Dzyuba can provide more goals for Russia.OLGA MALTSEVA/Getty Images

It's more likely both teams trade goals early before settling for what they have and saving energy for the next round.

     

Saudi Arabia 0-2 Egypt

After not playing in the first game and being left overwhelmed by the second, Mohamed Salah will take his chance to leave a mark on the tournament.

The free-scoring Liverpool forward will remind audiences about his pace, perceptive movement and unerring touch in front of goal. Those qualities will send the Pharaohs away with a welcome win after the disappointment of losing 3-1 to Russia, a game where Salah scored from the penalty spot.

Salah can sign off from a disappointing World Cup in style.
Salah can sign off from a disappointing World Cup in style.NICOLAS ASFOURI/Getty Images

Egypt's football association felt compelled to complain to FIFA about referee Enrique Caceres after the Russia game, per BBC Sport. A complaint won't change the result, just as putting three points on the board in Volgograd will provide only scant consolation.

     

Spain 3-1 Morocco

Spain have the strength in depth few, if any, of the rest of the nations in the competition can match. La Roja's embarrassment of riches is most obvious in midfield.

Familiar names David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets still feature. Yet Isco has also been a star, while his Real Madrid team-mate Marco Asensio can unlock any defence.

Coach Fernando Hierro can even call on Atletico Madrid pair Koke and Saul Niguez, as well as Bayern Munich maestro Thiago Alcantara. Hierro will need to decide how to refresh his ranks with qualification already assured.

Morocco are out, but Hierro may feel his pass-masters still need Diego Costa to aim for. The 29-year-old striker has been making the most of his chances through two matches:

Alternatively, Hierro might want to rest his in-form attacking talisman for the knockout round, especially since he's not short of quality alternatives. Both Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Moreno are capable of scoring and creating goals. 

No matter who starts, La Roja aren't taking Morocco lightly, with Busquets calling for focus, per Sid Lowe of the Guardian: "We know what the options are, but there's only one option for this match: win, play well, finish first."

Spain will have enough ideas and talent to close out their group campaign in style and take top spot.

        

Iran 1-2 Portugal

Piling in the goals will likely be beyond Ronaldo and Co. against a tough Iran defence. Ronaldo will be attempting to get the better of a group stingy enough to keep a record 12 clean sheets during qualifying.

Ronaldo will again be the player to watch.
Ronaldo will again be the player to watch.FRANCISCO LEONG/Getty Images

Ronaldo's job will be made harder by the presence of Carlos Queiroz as Iran coach. The 65-year-old helped refine a young Ronaldo's game at Manchester United and also once worked with him at international level.

Queiroz has demanded concentration from his players, per Goal's Jon Fisher

"Not even in their dreams did my players imagine they would one day play against Cristiano, and all of Portugal's other great players so they are very excited."

"We will try to do our best, concentrate and fight from the first minute. We have nothing to lose, they have everything to lose, we have everything to gain."

Queiroz will have his players prepared for Ronaldo.
Queiroz will have his players prepared for Ronaldo.Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images

Unfortunately for Queiroz, Ronaldo is not the only threat Portugal possess. Paris Saint-Germain forward Goncalo Guedes has proved a decent foil for the star thanks to his pace and varied range of movement.

There's also ample goals and craft in midfield thanks to Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes.

Iran were solid in a win over Morocco, before acquitting themselves brilliantly during a narrow defeat to Spain. Yet another close loss beckons as Portugal's mix of experience and youth in attacking areas will prove decisive.

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