Thursday, September 20, 2018

Prediction: Iran vs Spain

Verdict: Spain to win to nil

Best Odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: William Hill

Following the fortunate victory over Morocco, Iran are top of the group ahead of the clash with star-studded Spain, meaning that another positive result could see them qualify for the knockout stages. La Furia Roja missed the opportunity to beat Portugal few days ago, and they aim to make things right on Wednesday evening.

Iran

Iran are making their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals and they have been pretty disappointing at their first four attempts. Team Melli failed to get past the group stage, winning just one of 12 fixtures at the tournament finals, scoring a total of 7 goals in the process. Having been placed in the same group as last two European champions Spain and Portugal and also very good Morocco side, Iran were tipped for another disappointing tournament, but Carlos Queiroz’s side have managed to prove the doubters wrong.

In all fairness, Team Melli were completely outclassed by Morocco in their opening game in Russia, but they held on and eventually managed to score the all-important winner deep into injury time. Iran will be hoping for more of the same when they face Spain in their second group game, but they will have a difficult task trying to stop La Furia Roja from scoring, that’s for sure.

Team News

Alireza Jahanbakhsh is doubtful through injury, but there are no other selection worries for head coach Carlos Queiroz.

Spain

With head coach Julen Lopetegui deciding to accept an offer from Real Madrid mere days before he was supposed to lead Spain at the 2018 World Cup, the national team chiefs made a brave decision to sack the former FC Porto boss and replaced him with Fernando Hierro. The change definitely had a negative effect on the players ahead of the opening fixture against Portugal, but La Furia Roja managed to overcome all problems and produced a promising performance in their opening fixture.

Spain recovered well from conceding the early goal, twice coming from behind to take a 3-2 lead, but a silly foul late into the game allowed Ronaldo to level the score and secure an important point for the Selecao. Nonetheless, there were plenty of positives in Hierro’s first game in charge, and there are no doubts that La Furia Roja are in a good position to win their second group game and stake the claim for the first place in Group B.

Team News

With no fresh injuries to report, Fernando Hierro is expected to stick to the same side that started the Portugal clash.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Iran failed to get past the group stage at first four attempts
  • Spain unbeaten in last 21 fixtures (W14 D7)
  • Both teams scored in five of Spain’s last six matches
  • Iran scored 8 goals in 13 World Cup games
  • Spain’s three forwards have mere 38 caps between them (16 goals)

Conclusion

Iran were quite fortunate to defeat Morocco in their opening fixture and with top scorer Sardar Azmoun often left isolated up front, we we don’t think they will be able to seriously test David De Gea. Therefore, backing Spain to win to nil seems like the right thing to do.

Verdict: Spain to win to nil

Best Odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: William Hill

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