Cristiano Ronaldo will be out to prove a point against his former mentor Carlos Queiroz when Portugal face Iran today. Photo: Francisco Seco/AP

A big day for Groups A and B at the World Cup, as Uruguay and Russia vie for top spot, while Spain, Portugal and Iran push for qualification.

Could Carlos Queiroz’s Iran cause an upset against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal?

Also, Mohamed Salah will look to prove his undoubted class on the world stage for Egypt against Saudi Arabia.

4pm: Uruguay v Russia

Both teams have already qualified for the last-16, but who will top Group A? Well, that could actually depend on who they want to face in the next round, although they won’t know before kickoff who would qualify from Group B, where Spain, Portugal and Iran are all still in the running.

So, if Uruguay want to top the group, they need to win as Russia have a massive advantage of five when it comes to goal difference after they thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0.

But they have yet to find their best form despite two 1-0 wins over the Saudis and Egypt, despite Luis Suarez scoring in their last game, and they will be without Jose Maria Gimenez due to a thigh injury.

Russia will have the greater hunger to finish first to satisfy the home fans, and to be fair, they have been impressive in dispatching their two other group opponents.

Denis Cheryshev has been on fire, and Aleksandr Golovin has not been far behind.

Prediction: Uruguay 1-2 Russia

4pm: Saudi Arabia v Egypt

What a sad day for African hopefuls Egypt as they will bid farewell to the biggest stage in their first appearance since 1990.

They were doomed from the start following Mohamed Salah’s Champions League final injury, and things just never happened for them against Uruguay and Russia.

But they will most definitely be favourites in this all-Arab showdown, and Salah will want to end his time in Russia with a flourish.

There could be a piece of history if Egypt opt to start with Essam El-Hadary in goal, as he would become the oldest World Cup player at 45.

Prediction: Saudi Arabia 0-1 Egypt

8pm: Spain v Morocco

The fact that the two Group B deciders are being played at the same time makes Spain’s task straightforward – win at all costs – because, at the moment, they are on top of the table due to a better disciplinary record.

They have four points and a positive goal difference of one, exactly the same as Portugal, but have one fewer yellow card than their great rivals.

You would have to think that the Spaniards will have too much firepower for the North Africans, with Diego Costa looking sharp, and Daniel Carvajal back from injury.

But can Moroccan coach Hervé Renard cook up a surprise? They were unlucky to lose in stoppage time to Iran and performed well against Portugal…

Prediction: Spain 2-0 Morocco

8pm: Iran v Portugal

It’s all come down to a shoot-out in Saransk – can Iran stop Cristiano Ronaldo?

A draw is enough for the Portuguese to advance, but then they may finish second in the group. They will find it tough to break down a pragmatic Iranian approach masterminded by coach Carlos Queiroz, who knows Ronaldo better than most – having helped take him to Manchester United and managing him at Portugal.

There is well-known bad blood between the two, though, since the national team’s elimination at the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals in South Africa, where Ronaldo was frustrated with Queiroz’s defensive tactics.

So Ronaldo will be keen to prove a point once more, but even if Iran somehow manage to keep him quiet, where are their goals going to come from?

Prediction: Iran 0-2 Portugal



IOL Sport

Like IOL Sport on Facebook

Follow IOL Sport on Twitter