Iran may have taken all three points against Morocco, but they certainly weren’t eye catching in their display. In fact, they had just two shots on target throughout the entire match against Morocco, claiming just 32% of possession and getting the only goal of the game thanks to a 95th minute own goal.
To say they deserved the win in Saint Petersburg would be a huge leap, and now they come up against a side who will claim even more possession and stifle their already limited creativity even more.
Many would say that Iran have proven difficult to beat over the last few years, but their opposition hasn’t been of the best quality. They haven’t beaten a side ranked in the top 20 of the FIFA World Rankings since they beat Chile in a 2015 friendly, and have already lost to both Tunisia and Turkey in 2018. Spain are a very different beast from all of the opposition they have faced in the last few years.
The Spanish World Cup campaign has been riddled with controversy though. They sacked Julen Lopetegeui just two days before the tournament kicked off due to his negotiations with Real Madrid, and Fernando Hierro oversaw a difficult match with Portugal for their World Cup opener.
Hierro’s reign almost turned disastrous within the first ten minutes of the match as they gave away a penalty, which was coolly dispatched by Cristiano Ronaldo. Diego Costa pulled them back into the game though, and despite a monumental error by David De Gea that saw them 2-1 down at the break they fought back. First came another Costa equaliser, before a rocket of a strike from right back Nacho put them ahead. Three points turned out to be too big of an ask though, with Ronaldo completing his hat trick with a stunning free kick late on.
It remains the most entertaining match of the World Cup so far, but Spain will now be looking for their first win. If we’re honest, we’re fully expecting them to get it as well.
They may have looked vulnerable at the back, but against an Iran side who were almost completely ineffectual against Morocco we don’t foresee many problems for Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique. At the other end they have scored 35 goals in their last 11 games, with seven of them seeing at least three goals. This makes a Spain Win and Over 2.5 Goals look a good choice.
We’re also expecting a confidence boosting clean sheet for the Spaniards too, so we’re going for Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams Not to Score, along with a 3-0 correct score predictions.
Diego Costa is the man who salvaged Spain’s game against Portugal, and the former Chelsea man looks in lethal form at the moment. He has scored eight goals in his last eight international starts, so we’re backing him for our anytime goalscorer predictions.
Iran Predicted Lineup: Beiranvand, Rezaeian, Cheshmi, Pouraliganji, Safi, Ebrahimi, Jahanbakhsh, Shojaei, Amiri, Ansarifand, Azmoun
Spain Predicted Lineup: De Gea, Nacho, Pique, Ramos, Alba, Thiago, Busquets, Iniesta, Isco, Silva, Costa
This will be the first meeting between Iran and Spain.
Iran can call upon Saeid Ezatolahi again after his suspension ended, but the returning player could be resigned to a spot on the bench as Carlos Queiroz names an unchanged starting eleven.
Nacho will fight for his place at right back as Dani Carvajal tries to regain his fitness, whilst Thiago could come in for Koke in the centre of the park. Diego Costa is expected to lead the line after his brace against Portugal.