In our Iran Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Iranian team, which has qualified for its second consecutive World Cup tournament.
Iran Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Amir Abedzadeh, Alireza Beiranvand, Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri
Defenders: Rouzbeh Cheshmi, Majid Hosseini, Mohammad Khanzadeh, Milad Mohammadi, Pejman Montazeri, Morteza Pouraliganji, Ramin Rezaeian
Midfielders: Vahid Amiri, Ashkan Dejagah, Omid Ebrahimi, Saeid Ezatolahi, Ali Gholizadeh, Ehsan Hajsafi, Masoud Shojaei, Mehdi Torabi
Forwards: Karim Ansarifard, Saman Ghoddos, Reza Ghoochannejhad, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Taromi
- Manager: Carlos Queiroz
- Captain: Masoud Shojaei
- Best Finish: Group Stage (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014)
Likely starting lineup
Iran did little to endear themselves to the neutral in 2014.
There were some creditable performances. Drawing 0-0 with Nigeria and the same result snatched away from them at the death by Lionel Messi against Argentina. Their performance was stodgy, unambitious and, in the end, just there to make up the numbers.
Having made it to their second World Cup in a row, manager Carlos Queiroz will want to see a little more adventure from his players. But up against Spain, Portugal and a talented Morocco team, that may well be a little easier said than done.
There are some issues for Queiroz to contend with ahead of the tournament too. Most notably their star midfielder Saeed Ezatolahi will miss the opening game with Morocco due to suspension. The former Real Madrid boss has also openly questioned the physical preparation of the team ahead of the trip to Russia.
They would need a minor miracle to get out of the group for the first time in the nation’s history. This will be disappointing having worked so hard to make it to the finals. Iran supporters will want to see some positive performances at least and for their players to take plenty from the experience ahead of 2022 in Qatar.
Key Man – Alireza Beiranvand
A strong defence was the key to Iran’s qualification for their second consecutive World Cup and while the whole team deserves credit for that cohesion, goalkeeper Beiranvand was crucial to any rearguard actions.
In their 10 games in Group A Team Melli only let in two goals, with the 25-year-old so effective between the sticks. Having been entrusted with the No. 1 spot since the 2014 tournament, he’s grown into the jersey on the international stage.
While he can be brilliant, Beiranvand does have a reputation for being a little erratic too. In a group where Iran are going to be on the back foot and have a tremendous amount of defensive work to get through, it’s essential the Persepolis stopper cuts out those errors.
Even so, Beiranvand will find it remarkable that he’s even playing at the World Cup. In a feature by the Guardian, it’s noted that he was sleeping rough before being picked up by a club and given an opportunity to prove himself.
Iran’s Group Stage fixtures
Friday, June 15
Wednesday, June 20
Monday, June 25
Iran’s path to the final
If Iran wins Group B, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group A which will either be Russia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. If Iran wins that Round of 16 game, Iran will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the winner of Group D (Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria or Croatia) versus the team that finishes second in Group C (either France, Australia, Peru or Denmark). If Iran advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the F1 vs. E2 versus H1 vs. G2 series.
If Iran finishes second in Group B, Iran will play the team that finishes first in Group A (either Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay or Egypt). If Iran wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against whoever is victorious between the winner of Group C (either France, Australia, Peru or Denmark) and the team that finishes second in Group D (either Argentina, Iceland, Croatia or Nigeria). If Iran advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the E1 vs. F2 versus G1 vs. H2 series.
Iran World Cup shirt (away)
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