Big Match Breakdown: Iran v Portugal
Cian Carroll | 25 June 2018
Preview and tips ahead of group finale
Portugal take on Iran in the final game of Group B knowing a point will be enough to make the knockout stages.
The permutation is simple for Iran – win and they’re through at Portugal’s expense. But can they achieve what – on paper – looks a near impossible task against Cristiano Ronaldo and co.?
The Coral News Team examines the situation with a Big Match Breakdown…
The pair have only ever clashed twice before, with Portugal winning on both occasions. The first time was way back in 1972 in the Independence Cup.
The last time the two teams met, Portugal came out on top in the 2006 summer showpiece in Germany. In both games, Selecao das Quinas triumphed to nil, 3-0 and 2-0, respectively.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the latter win – and 12 years later remains Portugal’s main man.
Thankfully, neither side have any key absentees. In fact, both squads are practically at full health.
Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz will be delighted to welcome back Alireza Jahanbakhsh to the starting line-up. The AZ Alkmaar attacker was only fit enough to be on the bench against Spain.
For Fernando Santos, it should be more of the same. The Portuguese boss is likely to retain the same team that finished off Morocco.
Raphael Guerreiro had a stinker in that game but the Borussia Dortmund full-back should keep his place.
Keeping Ronaldo quiet here will be Iran’s main task. The Real Madrid frontman has scored all four of his team’s goals in this tournament.
However, Iran are so well-organised at the back and Queiroz will have intimate knowledge of his countryman. But as boxing legend Mike Tyson succinctly put it, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.”
Jahanbakhsh – if he’s 100% fit – against Guerreiro down the flank will be fascinating. The Portugal left-back was crucified by Nabil Nirar and Noureddine Amrabat in the previous game.
However, Iran’s full-back Ramin Rezaeian won’t overlap as much as Dirar did so Guerreiro shouldn’t struggle as much here.
Iran are 5/1 for the win. Portugal are 4/6, with the Draw available at 27/10.
There are a number of fascinating things to consider here. Iran were excellent against Spain and very unlucky to lose 1-0.
On the flipside, Portugal could have easily lost against Morocco. Only a lack of composure meant Herve Renard’s side failed to score.
Iran have never won their final group game at a World Cup, and crumbled in 2014, losing 3-1 to Bosnia in the third fixture.
Don’t expect Queiroz’s side to go for it immediately. This should be tight initially, with the game getting stretched in the second half.
The Ballon d’Or holder has been immense in Russia so far. Ronaldo is 5/6 to score Anytime, and 9/4 to hit the net first.
Expect Iran to start in a low-block and remain solid until half-time, then go for it in the second period. It’s 21/10 that the first goal will come in the second-half.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing