Iran and USA set to battle for qualification to the World Cup knockout phase
By Christopher Houston
Iran is on the verge of making history as they prepare to take on Berhalter’s USA side and potentially qualify for the World Cup knockout phase for the first time in the nation’s history.
A win for either team would secure qualification out of Group B for the knockout rounds and a draw would mean that Iran would qualify for the next round provided that England do not get beaten by Wales by two goals or more.
Following on from Team Melli’s emphatic win over Wales on Friday in what was just their third win at the FIFA World Cup in their nation’s history, they’ll be hoping that they won’t have to wait much longer for their next win as it would prove to be decisive in helping them provide the fans with another upset, which is starting to become a theme at this years’ World Cup in Qatar with shock upsets and performances coming from all angles.
On the other hand, USA will look to mark their 12th appearance at the FIFA World Cup with another knockout round qualification having previously reached the knockout round five times before with a Quarter-Final and Semi-Final finish in their record books.
With their draw on Friday, against one of the tournament favorites, England, it showed that Berhalter’s side are an extremely cohesive unit when it comes to defending. They have conceded just one goal from two games which came from the penalty spot, meaning Iran may struggle to break the strong defense of the USA down.
This grudge match to be played tomorrow at 7:00 PM GMT shapes up to be unpredictable as the Stars and Stripes have lacked a certain cutting edge to be able to put their chances away but in stark contrast, Iran have displayed some lapses in concentration and organization when it comes to defending having conceded six goals at the hands of Gareth Southgate’s England who have all but secured their progression into the knockout phase.
Queiroz’s side will be without one of their key players, Alireza Jahanbaksh, after he was suspended for picking up his second booking of the tournament against Wales on Friday.
Iran’s hopes will be rested firmly on the shoulders of Mehdi Taremi who has been in fine form both for club and for country as he has 13 goals to his name for Porto this season as well as the striker’s two goals at the World Cup in Qatar both of which came in Team Melli’s 6-2 loss to England in their opening group game.
Despite what the group table suggests, both teams look poised to battle it out in what ensures to be an extremely tight affair as they both look to claw their way out of Group B and into the knockout rounds.