Why Spain Vs. Portugal Is 'Can't-Miss' Game Of Group Stage


The draw for the group stages took place today, with the highlight pairing undoubtedly being a match between European Champions Portugal and near neighbours Spain in their opening Group B game in Sochi.

Group D sees familiar foes meeting once more, as Argentina and Nigeria will compete against one another for the fifth time in the past six World Cups, while Iceland and Croatia - who met twice in qualifying - have been drawn together again.

One thing to remember in general: If both Argentina and Portugal win their respective group, or if both countries finish second in their group, a Messi-Ronaldo final is impossible.

The glitzy draw, featuring a short speech from Russian President Vladimir Putin, also laid out potential routes to the final, revealing tantalising prospects such as a Spain versus Argentina quarter-final, and possible semi-finals of Spain against Germany or France versus Brazil.

Portugal would likely face Nigeria/Croatia/Peru/Denmark in the quarterfinals and Germany/Belgium/England/Colombia in the semifinals.

"To play against Spain, Portugal and Morocco will be a great opportunity for our players to show why they are here and especially to show that they deserve to be here".

Neymar's Brazil must negotiate a group including Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia as the South Americans seek a sixth title. "This will be an exciting World Cup".

Spain, the 2010 winners, will meet Iberian rivals Portugal as well as Morocco and Iran in Group B following the ceremony that was staged at the Kremlin in Moscow.

The French team and their potent strike force of Antoine Griezmann will play Australia, Peru and Denmark in Group C.

Australia has been in disarray since qualifying and is now searching for a new coach following the resignation of Ange Postecoglou.

"They are something other than just Cristiano", Lopetegui said.

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal and Japan.

The tournament that spans 11 cities and 12 stadiums will kick off when host nation Russian Federation take on Saudi Arabia on 14 June in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

Russia's other opponents in Group A are Uruguay, led by Barcelona's Luis Suarez, and Egypt, spearheaded by Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah. But he also conceded: "We just didn't want to get Spain from pot two".