By 90Min
June 24, 2018

Spain need just a point to make sure of their place in the last 16 of the World Cup as they entertain already-eliminated Morocco in Kaliningrad on Monday.

Julen Lopetegui was sacked as Spain manager just two days before their opening match of the tournament but it doesn't seem to have upset the apple cart so far, with Spain taking four points from their first two games under Fernando Hierro.

Spain know that their fate is in their own hands, but Hierro will have one eye on proceedings in Saransk, where a good result for Iran against Portugal could make life awkward for Spain if they slip up unexpectedly.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the final matchday in Group B.


The Story So Far

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Spain's campaign began with a match which is unlikely to be eclipsed as the game of the tournament. Diego Costa's first World Cup goals and a screamer from Nacho looked to have given them an opening win against Portugal before Cristiano Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a late free kick to share the spoils.

They followed that up with a narrow win over Iran, who showed great resolve and only conceded to a lucky goal from Costa. A marginal VAR call denied Iran an equaliser as Spain were made to sweat until the end. They now have four points and share the group lead with Portugal.

Morocco's campaign was doomed from the start as Aziz Bouhaddouz's 95th minute own goal condemned them to defeat in their must-win opener against Iran.

They were much improved in their second game against Portugal, where they dominated for large periods. But Cristiano Ronaldo's header and some profligate finishing cost them as they again lost 1-0 and were the first side to be officially eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.


Permutations

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La Roja just need to avoid defeat to progress to the last 16.

If Spain lose, they will still go through to the last 16 as group runners-up if Portugal beat Iran.

If Spain lose by two clear goals or more and the Portugal game finishes as a draw, Iran will join Portugal in the last 16.

If Spain lose by one goal and the Portugal game finishes as a draw, Spain will go through with Portugal unless Iran score four more goals than Spain (e.g. 0-1 and 4-4).

If Spain lose and Portugal lose, Iran will top the group and whoever loses by the lesser margin will join them.

If Spain and Portugal both have the same result with the same scoreline, the order will be decided by fair play points (determined by red and yellow cards). Portugal are currently winning in this regard.


Team News

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Spain made two changes from their first match to their second, including the surprising decision to drop Nacho after his goal of the tournament contender against Portugal. The clean sheet against Iran could mean that Dani Carvajal retains his place at right back.

The other change against Iran saw Lucas Vazquez replace Koke, with Andres Iniesta dropping into a deeper midfield role where he seemed to have greater influence. Fernando Hierro could therefore name the same team that started in Kazan.

Morocco manager Herve Renard is unlikely to make many changes from the team that performed so well against Portugal in Moscow. Ayoub El Kaabi could return in place of Khalid Boutaib up front.


Predicted Starting Lineups


Spain (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta; Silva, Isco, Vazquez; Costa

Morocco (4-2-3-1): Munir; Dirar, Benatia, da Costa, Hakimi; El Ahmadi, Boussoufa; N Amrabat, Belhanda, Ziyech; El Kaabi


Prediction

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Spain have looked more like the class of 2010 than 2014 so far, but they must start taking their chances better than they did against Iran.

With the pressure off, Morocco are likely to play freely and go for a historic win, but this will leave wide open spaces at the back for Spain to exploit. La Roja know that a draw will be enough to go through, but they'll want to finish ahead of their Iberian neighbours Portugal.

If Morocco can play as well as they did against Portugal, they could cause some problems for Spain. But in all likelihood, Fernando Hierro's team will do what needs to be done and book their place in the knockout stages.

Prediction: Spain 2-0 Morocco

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