We are on Spain outright and they could hardly have been more impressive in their opener, scoring four very quick goals against New Zealand, before stepping off the gas. I do not think the Kiwis crossed the half way line, at least with the ball, in the opening twenty five minutes !
The same day a very defensive minded Iraqi team were riding their luck in a 0-0 draw with the host nation. They really did show a lack of ambition in that game and we can expect them to once again shut up shop and try to keep the Spanish Armada at bay.
Let's have a few words from the cynic inside me, I do not feel it will do the tournament or football in general much good, if Spain once again run away with this. Yes, I expect them to win, but another landslide victory seems unlikely.
Iraq are also a lot more astute than NZ, are vastly experienced, with nine squad members having 60+ caps and are used to playing tournament football, usually with great success, they will get ten men behind the ball, with top scorer and captain Younis Mahmoud up front on his own. He is a prolific goalscorer and capable of taking full advantage of any chances that might come his way. In midfield look out for Nashat Akram, he was very close to securing a move to the EPL, before finally signing for FC Twente in the Netherlands.
Spain are bound to rotate one or two players and I doubt that the star turns will be expected to play for 90 minutes. The match is being played in Bloemfontein which is 1400m above sea level, so the altitude is a minor concern, I think it gave Brazil, who faced Egypt here, some problems in the second half and we might once again see a lower key Spain after the break. Iraq arrive here fron Johannesburg which is even higher so they will have few worries and might even benefit from the drop down.
To lose this bet, Spain will have to win by a four goal margin and that seems very unlikely to me. Iraq are far better organised than New Zealand, who were defensively in disarray at times in the opener. I see a 14th straight win for the European Champions, but probably by a one or two goal margin.
I have seen the half time draw quoted at 4.70 +, not going to put that up as a bet, but it looks a little on the big side.
8 points Iraq +3 goals 1.76 asian line.