Getting to know Iran: Entering their fifth World Cup as consecutive qualifiers for the first time in its history, Iran will be hoping for another first.
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This one would be a shock, as Iran is aiming to escape a Group B with favorites Spain, EURO champions Portugal, and a Morocco side viewed to be the best in Africa.
They won’t be shrinking violets, having beaten Algeria and Panama this season while also boasting away draws against South Korea and Russia.
For more history on Iran, click here.
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What group are they in? B
Game schedule – Group B – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here
Friday, June 15: Morocco vs. Iran, St Petersburg 11 a.m. ET
Wednesday, June 20: Iran vs. Spain, Kazan 2 p.m. ET
Monday, June 25: Iran vs. Portugal, Saransk 2 p.m. ET
Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full
—– Beiranvand —–
Rezaeian — Pouraliganji — Hosseini — Mohammadi
Karimi — Ezatolahi
Jahanbakhsh—-Shojaei —- Taremi
Star player: Sardar Azmoun — The 23-year-old Rubin Kazan striker has been nothing short of prolific for Team Melli, scoring 23 times in 32 caps. He’s been pretty good in the Russian Premier League as well, spending time with Rubin Kazan and Rostov.
Manager: Carlos Queiroz – He’s had some big jobs, you know. The former Manchester United assistant under Sir Alex Ferguson also led Portugal, Real Madrid, and Sporting CP.
Secret weapon: Alireza Jahanbakhsh — Twenty-one goals and 12 assists, including hat tricks in two of his final three league games: Yep, AZ Alkmaar’s Jahanbakhsh has done just fine for himself in the Eredivisie. Who scored more? No one.
Prediction: Out in the group stage, but not without giving a scare or two to their group mates.