Entering the 2018 World Cup Spain was riding high as a top tier favorite that all concerned felt could win the championship. But on the eve of their first game against Portugal La Roja blew itself up in a sense with the firing of coach Julen Lopetegui. It’s not that the players turned on their leader or that the team was in turmoil. Lopetegui simply agreed to take the pro coaching job at Real Madrid effective at the end of the World Cup. And for that the administration of the Spanish team decided to pull the plug. While you can question the priorities and the timing it doesn’t change the reality that Spain is now having to improvise. Against Morocco, however, the coach should not matter at all. Spain is a prohibitive favorite against the Group B long shots.
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2018 FIFA World Cup Spain vs. Morocco
Date and Time: Monday, June 25, 2018, 2 p.m. ET
Location: Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
FIFA World Cup Odds at BetCris: Morocco + 1 ½ -111, Spain -1 ½ -104, Over 2 ½ -132, Under 2 ½ +117, Morocco +900, Spain -284, Draw +399
Spain vs. Morocco TV Coverage: FS1
Spain is a 5/1 top tier favorite with Brazil, Germany, and France to win the World Cup. Morocco is a 500/1 long shot to win the tournament championship. In Group B Spain is a -155 choice to win the foursome. Morocco is a +5000 betting option for Group B.
The New Boss
Fernando Hierro replaced Lopetegui as coach for Spain in the World Cup. He takes over a team that had regained its Glory Years form of 2008-12 under Lopetegui. Hierro lacks managerial experience and yet takes over one of the most talented and deepest rosters in the tournament. If Hierro is smart he will try to stay out of the way with minimum influence. With this loaded team he can prove his “brilliance” by unleashing it.
Among the many accomplishments that Lopetegui achieved while coach of Spain was the implementation of ball control. Lopetegui had developed his players with excellent habits and precision passing. That is not likely to be lost in just a couple of weeks at Russia. Few teams can match the Spaniards when it comes to possession football.
But Can They Finish?
While Spain is a superb possession team they were frustrating to fans and bettors during qualification when it came to the finish. While they showed strong scoring prowess in the opening game against Portugal in a 3-3 draw they hardly filled the net in the match that followed against Iran. Spain defeated the Iranians 1-0 in a cure for insomnia. So far it appears as if Diego Costa is primed to fill the role of finisher. Costa has three goals in the first two games for Spain for a promising start. Another key component to Spain is 34 year old Andres Iniesta. The midfielder scored the winning goal for Spain’s 2010 World Cup title team. He is the ultimate ball control player and pace setter. This is also Iniesta’s final World Cup chance that he won’t take for granted. Defender Sergio Ramos is World Class and the team captain. Few are better at the shut down.
It is hard to understate just how totally overmatched Morocco is in this match. So far they have two losses in two games, both of which were 1-0 eyesore bores. Even worse is that the only goal Morocco has scored was for the other team. In the opener against Iran, Morocco gave the game away with an own goal blunder at the 90 minute mark.
Spain vs. Morocco Free Picks
Spain can name the score in this one. But they will likely settle for getting a quick goal or two and then letting the clock run out. Morocco has little if any chance of scoring.
Spain vs. Morocco Pick: Bet the money line on Spain
Spain vs. Morocco Score Prediction: Spain 2, Morocco 0.
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