2018 Soccer World Cup factbox: Group B

2018-05-31 07:33
Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty Images)

United Kingdom - All the need-to-know facts on the international teams vying for glory in Group B at the 2018 Soccer World Cup in Russia.

SWC factbox: Group A

SWC factbox: Group B

SWC factbox: Group C

SWC factbox: Group D

SWC factbox: Group E

SWC factbox: Group F

SWC factbox: Group G

SWC factbox: Group H

PORTUGAL

Honours: European Championship winners 2016

Past World Cup performances: Seventh participation.

Best result: Third (1966)

FIFA ranking: 4th

Main clubs: Benfica, Porto, Sporting Lisbon

Nickname: A Selecao das Quinas

How they qualified: Beat Switzerland to top spot on goal difference in UEFA qualifying Group B after winning nine of their 10 games.

Friendly matches scheduled before the World Cup: May 28 v Tunisia (Braga, Portugal), June 2 v Belgium (Brussels), June 7 v Algeria (Lisbon)

23-man World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon/FRA), Beto (Goztepe/TUR), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Rangers/SCO), Cedric Soares (Southampton/ENG), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang/CHI), Mario Rui (Napoli/ITA), Pepe (Besiktas/TUR), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica)

Midfielders: Adrien Silva (Leicester/ENG), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Mario (West Ham/ENG), Joao Moutinho (Monaco/FRA), Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)

Forwards: Andre Silva (AC Milan/ITA), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City/ENG), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/ESP), Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia/ESP), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas/TUR)

SPAIN

Honours: World Cup winners in 2010, European Championship winners in 1964, 2008, 2012; Olympic gold medalists in 1992
Past World Cup performance: 15th participation.

Best result: Winners in 2010

FIFA ranking: 8th

Main clubs: Real Madrid, Barcelona

Nickname: La Roja

How they qualified: Finished top of European qualifying Group G, ahead of Italy, without losing a match

Friendly matches scheduled before the World Cup: June 3 v Switzerland (Villarreal), June 9 v Tunisia (Krasnodar)

23-man World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United/ENG), Pepe Reina (Napoli/ITA), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao/ESP)

Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona/ESP), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea/ENG), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal/ENG), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid/ESP), Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid/ESP), Gerard Pique (Barcelona/ESP), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid/ESP), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad/ESP)

Midfielders: Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/GER), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona/ESP), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona/ESP), Koke (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid/ESP), David Silva (Manchester City/ENG), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid/ESP), Isco (Real Madrid/ESP)

Forwards: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo/ESP), Rodrigo (Valencia/ESP), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid/ESP)

MOROCCO

Honours: Africa Cup of Nations winners 1976

Past World Cup performance: Fifth participation.

Best result: Round of 16 in 1986

FIFA ranking: 42nd

Main clubs: Wydad Casablanca, FAR Rabat, Raja Casablanca

Nickname: Atlas Lions

How they qualified: Finished top of Group C in African qualifying

Friendly matches scheduled before the World Cup: May 31 v Ukraine (Geneva, Switzerland), June 4 v Slovakia (Geneva, Switzerland), June 9 v Estonia (Tallinn)

23-man World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia/ESP), Yassine Bounou (Girona/ESP), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger)

Defenders: Medhi Benatia (Juventus/ITA), Romain Saiss (Wolves/ENG), Manuel Da Costa (Istanbul Basaksehir/TUR), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce/TUR), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid/ESP), Hamza Mendyl (Lille/FRA)

Midfielders: M'barek Boussoufa (Al Jazira/UAE), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord/NED), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen/FRA), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord/NED), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray/TUR), Faycal Fajr (Getafe/ESP), Amine Harit (Schalke/GER), Mehdi Carcela (Standard Liege/BEL), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax/NED), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes/ESP)

Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Yeni Malatyaspor/TUR), Aziz Bouhaddouz (St Pauli/GER), Ayoub El Kaabi (RS Berkane)

Star player: Medhi Benatia

The French-born captain of Morocco heads to the World Cup after a fine season in which he has become a key player again for Juventus. A year ago, Benatia was playing so rarely for the Italian giants that he withdrew from a Moroccan team get-together because he felt incapable of performing to the required standard without sufficient game-time.

But he has benefited from the departure of Leonardo Bonucci last year to return to the Juve side, and his goal against the Ivory Coast last November clinched Morocco's place in Russia. There have been ups, but also downs, including the concession of the last-gasp penalty that sent Juve out of the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid, but the former Roma man has the experience needed for when the Atlas Lions prepare to come up against the likes of Spain and Portugal.

Coach: Herve Renard

Always elegant on the touchline in a white shirt, with a golden tan and flowing locks, Frenchman Renard has been a fixture on the African scene for most of the last decade. In that time he has won the Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia in 2012 and the Ivory Coast in 2015. In 2017, he took Morocco to the Cup of Nations quarter-finals and now he has led them to the World Cup for the first time in 20 years.

A former defender who played at Cannes at the same time a certain Zinedine Zidane was emerging, Renard had a brief spell managing in the English lower leagues at Cambridge United earlier in his career. However, it is on the international scene that he really made his name, and he is hopeful of making an impact in Russia despite Morocco being in the same group as both Spain and Portugal.

IRAN

Honours: Asian Cup winners in 1968, 1972, 1976    

Past World Cup performance: Fifth participation.

Best result: First round in 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014

FIFA ranking: 36th

Main clubs: Persepolis, Zob Ahan, Esteghlal, Saipa

Nickname: Team Melli

How they qualified: Top of Asian qualifying Group A, unbeaten in 10 games

Friendly matches scheduled: May 28 v Turkey (Istanbul), June 8 v Lithuania

Provisional World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo/POR)

Defenders: Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa), Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny/RUS), Mohammad Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Alsaad/QAT), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Ramin Rezaeian (Ostende/BEL), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Ehsan Haji Safi (Olympiakos/GRE), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos/GRE), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens/GRE), Mahdi Torabi (Saipa), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm/RUS)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar/NED), Ashkan Dejageh (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa/QAT), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen/NED), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds/SWE), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan/RUS), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis)

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