Before the World Cup, Group B was one of the easier of groups for Spain and Portugal to qualify for the knock-out stage of the tournament. For Spain, it will be a comeback to the knock-out after missing out on a playoff place in the 2014 World Cup where they lost heavily to the Netherlands before crashing out of the tournament in the group stage.
This time around, however, Spain started the group stage well with a draw and a win against Portugal and Iran to almost seal a place in the next stage of the tournament.
For Portugal, the situation is similar as they drew their opening game against Spain 3-3 before they came on top against the eliminated Moroccan side, who struggled to get the attack to the European opponents.
With zero points in two games, Morocco is knocked out of the World Cup, which in all fairness was a disappointing result. Iran, however, still remains with a fair chance at making to the playoff stage, with them requiring a victory over Portugal in the penultimate game of the group.
Spain’s chances at knock-out stage:
If Spain (vs Morocco) & Portugal (vs Iran) win/draw by identical scores Monday, then both advance, & group winner will be decided by Fair Play points.
If Spain & Portugal lose by identical scores, then Fair Play decides which advances as runner-up behind Iran.#RootForChaos
— Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) June 20, 2018
Spain, on the other hand, faces a depleted Moroccan side who would be looking to salvage some pride against the 2010 World Champions. Spain would be looking to put goals past the Moroccan defensive line to get to the next stage as the table-toppers with them at equal goal difference with Portugal.
For Portugal as well the equation is simple, with the European Champions requiring a straight-forward win or a draw against Iran in their final game. If Iran manages to surprise the European opponents, and Morocco stuns the Spanish side, all three sides would end up at 4 points, with Goal difference making a crucial decision for qualification.
Iran holds the key:
Spain top Group B on their fair play record 👀 pic.twitter.com/uKK198S3MA
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 20, 2018
Basically, if Spain loses to Morocco 2-1 while Portugal loses to Iran 2-1 (and this is just an example, it applies to any score in which both squads lose), then we’re going deep into tiebreakers. In which case, a fair play would come into the picture as the goal difference remains the same.
In that case, Spain would go through given that they do not get a yellow card against Morocco.
If Spain gets a yellow card, things could get messier as the winner of the group would be Iran, and the second place would be decided by a lot. It could get worse for either of the sides, given that it would be very unlucky for the two European sides.