Group B: Iran World Cup Betting Odds & Tips
Iran are making their journey to Russia this summer for a fourth World Cup Finals appearance in 20 years and their fifth overall.
They have been tasked with a hard mission in Group B, where they are joined by European champions Portugal, 2010 World Cup winners Spain and Morocco, a surprise package from the African qualifiers.
The other three nations will do well not to write off the Iranian challenge too hastily. In Carlos Queiroz they have a coach with a vast amount of experience at the top level.
The Portuguese native will face his home nation and is taking charge of a third successive World Cup Finals campaign (Portugal 2010, Iran 2014). Iran proved stubborn opposition in Brazil four years ago, holding Nigeria scoreless in their opener before going down only to a stoppage-time goal from Lionel Messi against eventual runners-up Argentina.
They were well beaten by Bosnia in their final game. Iran’s go-to man this summer is likely to be 22-year-old striker Sardar Azmoun, who plays his club football in Russia with Rubin Kazan.
He notched an impressive 11 goals in qualifying and will hope to provide the cutting edge that his country lacked four years ago in Brazil. The opening fixture in Group B sees Iran square off with Morocco in St Petersburg on June 15. For both nations, victory in that game will be viewed as a must-win before they face the European superpowers.
Iran are 3.25 to win that game, with Morocco (ranked below them in the FIFA standings) favourites at 2.25 and the draw 3.30. Iran’s qualifying effort saw them unbeaten in 18 games, impressively coming out on top of their second group stage ahead of South Korea.
The success of their respective qualifying campaigns was built on defensive solidity, so the opening game between Morocco and Iran is likely to come down to which side can offer that increased attacking threat, with Azmoun potentially the key man for Iran in that regard.
A draw in St Petersburg would play into the hands of Spain and Portugal but if Iran win, they might fancy their chances of upsetting Cristiano Ronaldo and company in their closing game in Saransk on June 25 where they could progress into the last-16 for the first time in their history.