The pressure is on in Group B as Iran and the USA go into their final clash with their fate still very much in their own hands.
Iran’s win over Wales means they hold a slight advantage over the Americans, who dulled England’s sparkle on matchday two to record a second successive draw.
Each team will go through with a win, though a draw will not be enough for the USA to manoeuvre their way into the last 16; Iran, on the other hand, could go through if they pick up a point, but only in the unlikely event of a five-goal winning margin for Wales over group leaders England.
But with three points equalling a golden ticket to the next phase, the directive is simple: Iran and the USA simply need to outscore one another. The stage is set for a potentially goal-filled clash.
Iran vs USA Betting Tips
Sardar Azmoun was available from the off against Wales having been sidelined since October for club side Bayer Leverkusen.
The forward played for over an hour against Rob Page’s side and, if fit, brings added threat to the Iranian front line.
USA full-backs Sergino Dest and Antonee Robinson brought pace to the wide areas against England and look likely to start again for the Americans.
Over 2.5 goals @ 6/5
Iran have twice proven their goalscoring acumen, netting twice in the loss to England and, more crucially, twice late on against Wales with the pressure at an all-time high.
Knowing that they have the chance to progress beyond the first round of a World Cup for the first time ever, Carlos Queiroz’s side will have their sights firmly set on the target.
The USA may have scored only once – through Timothy Weah against Wales in their opening draw – but the gameplan from coach Gregg Berhalter is likely to look wholly different in their final group assignment.
The Americans nullified England’s threat while sporadically testing Three Lions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, but now that nothing less than a win will do, there is no room for a conservative approach and both sides – especially the USA – will have to come out and play.
Berhalter’s side qualified for the tournament as the third-best North American side, but they outscored Mexico, second-best, in the final qualifying group and enjoyed a 3-0 win over fellow World Cup finalists Morocco in a warm-up friendly in June.
Mourteza Pouraliganji to be shown a card @ 9/1
Persepolis’ Morteza Pouraliganji has attracted the attention of the referee in both of Iran’s group games so far, racking up a team-high four fouls.
He earned himself a yellow card against England and successfully avoided a second booking in the 90 minutes he played against Wales, knowing that another yellow would rule him out of the USA clash.
But if Iran employ a win-at-all-costs mentality, such forward-planning might well fall by the wayside against the Americans and the defender’s indiscipline so far leaves him at the front of the queue to see a card.
The 30-year-old is comfortable throwing himself into the action, second only to Ahmad Noorollahi in terms of interceptions made – five, to Noorollahi’s six.
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