Turkey slumped to fourth in their World Cup qualifying group, so they won’t be taking part in the tournament in Russia this summer. They have their eyes on a meeting with Russia in the UEFA Nations League, where they are paired with the 2018 hosts and Sweden, another side who are at the World Cup. As Turkey look to rebuild and push for a place at Euro 2020, they’ll be expecting to get a positive result against Iran this week.
The visitors are on their way to Russia, although their strong displays in qualifying haven’t been rewarded in the draw, as they’ve got tough meetings with Spain and Portugal on the horizon. Pipping one of those two is going to be difficult, especially with Morocco also rivalling them in Group B. There’s a lot of work for Iran to do this summer, and pipping the European champions to a top two finish is going to be hard. Can they boost their hopes with a result in Istanbul this weekend?
The visitors have a very defensive style of play, and that’s how we expect them to approach meetings with Spain and Portugal, as well as this friendly trip. The Iranians are coached by former Portugal coach and ex-Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz. That could help them in a meeting with his native country, but how will his side fare on Monday?
The former Real Madrid manager has been at the previous two World Cups, taking Portugal to the last 16 in 2010. His side failed to score in three of their four trips, putting in defensive displays in every clash bar their meeting with minnows North Korea. His Iran side held Nigeria to a 0-0 draw in 2014, while they came close to doing the same against Argentina, until Lionel Messi broke the deadlock late on.
That kind of style has been the go to approach for Iran under Queiroz, who conceded just twice in 10 qualifying games. They’ve seen under 2.5 goals land in eight of their last 10 away trips, and we expect that to be the case against Turkey. Defending deep will be their test this summer, so they’ll want to do the same in Istanbul. We can see a low scoring game here, with Iran not exactly blessed up top, so we’re backing under 2.5 goals as our tip here.
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These two last met in 1974, with Turkey claiming a win in that encounter.
Turkey have a few players who miss out here, with AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu left out, and Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin now retired.
Charleroi pair Omid Noorafkan and Kaveh Rezaei have both been dropped from Iran’s World Cup squad.