England throttled Iran, 6-2, in each side’s World Cup opener on Monday.
This Iran squad does not hold a candle to that fabled Iran 1978 team. That team had class. Instead, the 2022 squad is the antithesis. Rough-edged footballers with aggression. Regardless, Gareth Southgate is delighted with a win that gives the Three Lions three points in Group B.
With lips sealed during national anthems, Iran’s team entered with heavy legs and heavier hearts. After 90+ minutes, the match ended 6-2. A relatively sober crowd of 45,000 fans at Khalifa Stadium witnessed the 2nd game of the tournament unfurl with eight goals.
Ultimately, England put on a clinic. This performance sends a warning to South American teams that England is Europe’s powerhouse.
Group b matchday 1 – england vs. iran
Carlos Queiroz sent out a 4-3-3 in the Iran World Cup opener to confront Southgate’s 4-2-3-1. The Englishmen dominated possession at 79%. Further, a whopping 90% accuracy on 798 passes. Contrarily, Queiroz’s formation did not come to fruition. In the first 45, Iran morphed into a 4-2-3-1. Two defensive midfielders shielding a flat ‘back four.’
Early doors, Iran was depleted with flat feet. Their strong suit is physicality. Jersey tugs and endless jostling of Englishmen proved to be a constant theme on set-pieces. Despite that, the Three Lions were two steps ahead of the challenges. As a result, Iran commits slide-tackles and toe-stomps.
Nevertheless, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Kane’s crosses invaded Iran’s third from the flank. As a result, aerial infiltrations led to three England goals from Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, and Raheem Sterling. The trio capitalized on two headers and a volley. It was 3-0 at the half, and it could have, perhaps should have, been more.
Furthermore, Kane’s footwork overpowered Milad Mohammadi’s defensive pacing. Despite the Iranian’s great effort, Kane’s peripheral vision pierced through.
Prevalent substitutions took precedence in the second 45. Both coaches cleared the air with shapeshifts. Defensive midfielder Saeed Ezatolahi, attacking midfielder Ali Gholizadeh, and defender Hossein Kanaani were substituted in preparation for matchday two against Wales. Queiroz benched these first-string players as if he knew Iran never stood a chance against England. Instead, he kept their legs fresh, likely to start all three against the Welsh Dragons on ‘Black Friday.’
Controversy abounds in Iran World Cup opener
Prior to the match, unveiled female Iran fans exuding jubilance declared their favorite player as Sardar Azmoun. The Bayer Leverkusen striker came on as a substitute, as he recovers from a calf strain. The fan-favorite is outspoken about women’s rights. As a result, Queiroz was pressured into excluding him on the roster. Despite that, the Portuguese manager made Azmoun’s presence known on the grand stage.
Statistics vary, but approximately 85,000+ British-Iranians reside in the United Kingdom. As a result, recent protests at the Qatar embassy in London highlighted the turmoil in Iran. In addition, the female-led protest called for a boycott of the World Cup.
bridge the gap
Undoubtedly, there is a gap among the 80+ million Iranians worldwide. Those who support ‘Team Melli’ due to their purist love of soccer and those who have a distaste. But that won’t hinder Ehsan Haji Safi’s leadership. In a pre-match press conference, the captain showed genuine solidarity with his resilient nation.
“We have to accept the conditions in our country are not right, and our people are not happy,” In other words, Team Melli has heavy hearts, a sentiment that permeates their defeat.
With two goals secured from a brace by Mehdi Taremi, Iran still has a chance to advance from the group stage. However, that depends on the goal differential. Ultimately, if England continues their dominance, Group B will be up for grabs.
Iran Wales, and the USMNT will fight for the 2nd place, with the latter two awaiting their World Cup opener result.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Xinhua
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