World Cup Team-by-Team Guide: Iran can grind through Group F
Past Tournaments: 1978, 1998, 2006
Previous Best: Group Stage, 1978, 1998, 2006
How they got here: Iran didn’t have too many problems plotting their path to Brazil, topping Group A in Asian qualifying ahead of South Korea having collected 16 points.
Carlos Queiroz’s defensive tactics ensured the Iranians were watertight at the back, conceding only two goals in eight games.
But the fact they only managed to notch eight goals at the other end of the pitch is an obstacle the Portuguese coach and his side need to overcome.
Star man: Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham)
Dejagah’s best efforts weren’t enough to save Fulham from Premier League relegation but the former Germany youth international can look forward to happier times in this summer’s World Cup.
The 27-year-old managed to make headlines in a struggling side with his workrate, flair and eye for goal crucial to Iran’s chances of group stage progression.
Under the radar: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC Breda)
Exciting forward Jahanbakhsh can operate on either flank but expect to see the 20-year-old cutting in from the left wing with Dejagah occupying the opposite starting berth.
Like his fellow countryman, the former Damash Gilan player suffered a domestic relegation but Jahanbakhsh’s performance in his debut Eredivisie season for NEC have belied his club’s eventual fate.
A total of five goals from 11 starts, including a final day brace against champions Ajax, is noteworthy with another host of impressive displays likely to prompt a departure to pastures new.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh nets his first goal for Iran in their 3-0 Asian Cup Qualifying win over Thailand
Team nutcase: Reza Haghighi (Persepolis)
Central midfielder Reza Haghighi’s high-profile bust-up with Persepolis team-mate Payam Sadeghian merits his inclusion in this section.
Sadly the latter didn’t make it in to the final 23-man squad but Haghigi is capable of stepping up to the plate to fill the nutcase void.
The pair’s scuffle during a friendly against Naft Tehran shocked coach and legendary Iranian figure Ali Daei.
However, following the incident earlier this year we may not be too surprised if Haghighi emerges as a repeat offender.
How will they get on?
Iran have faced major problems since sealing qualification due to the country’s political problems and economic sanctions, meaning the national side have suffered from a lack of game time in the intervening period.
Recent goalless draws against Belarus and Montenegro are nothing to shout about and also further highlight the difficulties Iran have in front of goal.
A lot will depend on beating Nigeria in their Group F opener in Curitiba. Should they grab all three points against the Super Eagles then the team can write off their following contest against Argentina and instead focus on keeping Bosnia’s dangerous attack at bay in what could be a group decider.
To win the World Cup: 3000/1
Best World Cup bet: Iran to score 2-3 group goals @ 23/20
You might not get rich backing this selection but given that Iran have scored two goals in each of their previous three World Cup campaigns there’s plenty of value to be had.
Any total higher than three goals would come as a surprise when you take into account Queiroz’s safety-first 4-2-3-1 formation and the calibre of their opponents with an investment in this bet more than likely to bear fruit.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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