Group B Match: Morocco Vs Iran
Time: 20:30 IST, Place: Saint Petersburg Stadium, Live Telecast(India): Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3
Iran, qualifying for the consecutive FIFA World Cup for the first time and Morocco, qualified after a wait of 20 years will engage horns with each other at the Saint Petersburg Stadium tonight.
This will be the first match of FIFA World Cup Group B. Other two teams in this group are Iberian rivals Spain and Portugal who will play with each other just after. With Euro Champions and former World Cup winners present in the group, this match will be very crucial for both Iran and Morocco, maybe the most crucial three points for them in this edition of the FIFA World Cup. If either teams achieve second spot in Group B, then it will be one of the major upsets of the tournament for either Spain or Portugal.
Head to head:
This will be the first competitive match between these two sides. We will be seeing Morocco Vs Iran for the first time.
Ranked 42nd, The Atlas Lions qualified for the first time in 20 years for the Group Stage of the tournament. This will be their fifth appearance in this tournament, having played 13 and winning just 2 matches. Their biggest achievement in a FIFA World Cup has been reaching the last 16 stage in 1986, which they will certainly hope to surpass in Russia.
Head Coach Herve Renard has done superbly with his defensive tactics for Morocco in the Africa Finals Qualifying Matches. Morocco were unbeaten in all 6 qualifying matches, without conceding a single goal while scoring 11 goals.
Renard will surely continue with his successful 4-2-3-1 formation, mostly defensive. In defense, they have their biggest man, Juve’s Mehdi Benatia who will be paired with Wolves’ Romain Saiss in the heart of defence for Morocco Vs Iran.
They will be supported by Real Madrid’s 19 year-old full-back Hakimi Achraf and Nabil Dirar from Fenerbahce on the flanks. Up front, Watford’s lone-striker Nordin Amrabat will be supported by their creative force, Galatasaray’s Younes Belhanda and both will be assisted from the flanks by their most talented player Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech and Schalke’s winger Amine Harit both of which will prove invaluable for Morocco vs Iran.
Mehdi Benatia (Juventus, Defender)
Morocco showed their defensive qualities during the qualifying stages by keeping six clean sheets in six matches, due to central defensive pairing of Mehdi Benatia and Roman Saiss. Juventus’s Benatia has experience on his side having played for some of Europe’s Elite Clubs. His tackling skills and tight marking will be enough to frustrate opponent strikers. He is well aided by other defensive players present in the squad and has been leading them well to form a strong defense line to cover-up any counter attacks as well as setting up nice offside traps for opposition forwards and this will surely prove to be key for them in the Morocco vs Iran fixture.
5️⃣ DAYS TO GO! ??
Morocco are ready for their 5th World Cup participation, led by our captain and number 5, Medhi Benatia. Poeticly enough, he was the man with the last goal of the qualificiation, sending us to Russia at the expense of Ivory Coast. pic.twitter.com/7NvfBlA9gS
— Maghrib Foot (@MaghribFoot) June 10, 2018
He has experience of playing against some of the biggest strikers in the world, so his performances will be very crucial tonight for Morocco Vs Iran.
Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, Attacking Midfielder)
Although born in The Netherlands, he chose to play for Morocco over the Dutch due to his parent’s nationality. Well as of now, he surely must me proud of his choice as the Dutch couldn’t travel to Russia.
FIFA World Cup 2018 – Ones To Watch
— IntoTheTopCorner (@ITTC_football) June 6, 2018
He will be the main threat for Iran having the knack of going forward and scoring goals. His technical abilities will be the key for Morocco while taking corners and free-kicks as he remains the set-piece specialist for Morocco. Ziyech is expected to start on the left-wing as he is more effective but manager Renard may play him centrally if Belhanda fails to perform.
Featuring in consecutive World Cups for the first time in their Football History, Iran will be one of the most proud teams to be playing in Russia. Iran have won only one match in their World Cup history when they overcame their global political rivals United States of America in FIFA World Cup 1998. They will be eager to add a second win to their chest and this might be their only chance to do so as a win against the other group members seem heavily out of favour. Morocco Vs Iran game might be their only chance.
Iran led by Carlos Queiroz, qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2018 while being unbeaten in Asia’s Qualifying Group. Same as Morocco, they were very strong in Defense during the qualifying rounds with 12 clean sheets, winning 12 and drawing 6 matches. Team Melli will be relying on these defensive records if they want to achieve something in Russia.
Captain Masoud Shojaei plays in a central midfield position alongside Olympiacos midfielder Hajsafi Ehsan. Their most talented player is Ruben Kazan’s striker Sardar Azmoun, who will be supported by AZ’s forward Alireza Jahanbakhsh. The defense will be covered by experienced defender Jalal Hosseini who has been in the team for more than 10 years now.
Sardar Azmoun (Ruben Kazan, Striker)
Nick named as the Iranian Messi, Azmoun will be the main man for Iran in Russia when talking of attacking options as he has already helped them rather single-handedly in the qualifying stages. He has already scored 23 goals for the Iran National Team in just 31 appearances. His finishing skills either by foot or head are quite well known in Europe and quite a few big clubs are already being linked with his transfer.
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) June 14, 2018
The Iran striker’s scoring experience with Russian side Ruben Kazan will surely going to help his side in Russia especially tonight in Morocco Vs Iran. His performance will be instrumental if Iran desires for a second win in the World Cup and will surely make him a national hero if he succeeds in it during tonight’s match of Morocco Vs Iran
Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ, Forward)
Alireza became the first Asian player to be a top goal scorer in one of the European Leagues. Playing for AZ in the Eredivisie, he has scored 21 goals and assisted 12 more in the 2017/18 season. This kind of form has helped him make an impact on the national team’s success during qualifying rounds and his team will look for more of the same for Morocco vs Iran.
One to watch at the World Cup today: Alireza Jahanbakhsh
Club: AZ Alkmaar
-Eredivisie top scorer this season with 21 goals and also contributed 12 assists
Can he lead Iran to victory over Morocco? pic.twitter.com/z8MQXrduzn
— Dutch Football (@FootballOranje_) June 15, 2018
He can also play on the left-wing and in Russia, he is expected to play as a left inside forward to support countryman Azmoun. His partnership with Azmoun will be the key for Iran to scratch past Morocco’s packed defense and secure a win in the Morocco vs Iran fixture.
Arsedevils Match Prediction:
Iran Vs Morocco : 2-1
Both teams are aware of the importance of this fixture of Morocco vs Iran represents and will give on everything they can on the pitch, so this fixture will be a very hard fought one.