GROUP B of the 2018 World Cup continues on Wednesday as Morocco meet Portugal in Moscow. Dan McCulloch (@danmcc84) analyses the action and pinpoints his favourite fancies.
Portugal v Morocco | Wednesday 20th June 2018, 13:00 | BBC
It was disappointing to see two losing bets in the opening round of fixtures in Group B and with such a small sample size, you don’t have a lot of information on which to revise your opinions. With the information I do have, I can’t say my views have really changed.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliance aside, I don’t believe that Portugal were too impressive on Friday night and I certainly thought Morocco were unfortunate to lose to Iran. The Atlas Lions completely dominated the first 20 minutes of that fixture, and missed several presentable chances during that period.
Such was the presumed gulf between the two sides that they were 10/11 on the exchange to win the game at this point, which is fairly incredible given that they were 5/4 pre-game. Had they managed to score the goal that would have almost certainly secured victory in such a tight encounter, I don’t believe they would be anywhere near as big as 5/1 to beat Portugal.
Unconvinced by Portugal
Ronaldo’s Portugal will be delighted to have taken a point from their opening fixture with Spain and the Real Madrid star was certainly in excellent form. Although his side were largely second best, I believe he showed an unselfishness rarely seen from him at club level as he almost single-handedly rescued a point for his country.
Ronaldo scored three goals from his – and Portugal’s – only three shots on-target and with Morocco and Iran to come in the group stages, 11/4 on him being the Top Goalscorer in the tournament seems very fair, to me.
It also makes me somewhat concerned about opposing Portugal, but ultimately I don’t believe you should forgot all the reasons that the Selecao were fancied for an early exit. Their centre halves have a combined age of 69, they won Euro 2016 despite winning just one of seven games in 90 minutes and Ronaldo aside, there are very few stars in this side.
Additionally, its’s unlikely that the three substitutions they made when chasing the game against Spain would strike fear in too many opposition defences as on came 34-year-old Ricardo Queresma, West Ham’s Joao Mario and Andre Silva who managed just two goals in 24 appearances for AC Milan in Serie A this season.
The betting angles
Morocco’s limitations were evident for all against Iran. While they are clearly fairly solid at the back, have some talented midfielders with excellent technical abilities in midfield, they were toothless in attack. Still, I saw very little goal threat from Portugal in open play so am still of the view that Fernando Santos’ side are too short at 4/6.
I would therefore recommend backing Morocco +1 at 3/4 with 188Bet on the Asian Handicap. This means that if Morocco do not lose our bet wins, if they lose by a single goal we get our money back and we only lose if Portugal win by two clear or more.
With 14 games played at the time of writing, six have finished with a score line of 1-0. With this in mind, I believe it is worth keeping a 1-0 Portugal victory onside at 21/4 with Unibet.