Morocco and Iran will square off in the World Cup Group B opener, with Spain and Portugal being the rivals for these two sides in the pool stage.
Morocco has been fantastic since Herve Renard took over as manager in early 2016. The Atlas Lions managed to win a tough qualifying group over Gabon, Mali and Ivory Coast, finishing undefeated in 6 games and conceding zero goals! The good play continued in the next friendlies, including the pre – World Cup ones, and now Morocco is riding an 18 match undefeated streak, winning 14 times during this run. In the last few weeks Morocco defeated Estonia and Slovakia and drew with Ukraine in preparation for the World Cup.
Iran will appear in its second consecutive World Cup after a good showing in 2014, when they were competitive and allowed just 4 goals in a very difficult group. The Iranians qualified for this competition by winning their qualifying group (which also featured South Korea) in style, finishing undefeated and allowing just 2 goals in 10 games (they actually kept a clean sheet in the first 9!). Iran played three friendlies in the last few weeks, beating Uzbekistan and Lithuania (both 1-0) and losing 1-2 to Turkey.Bet on Morocco v Iran and claim a 100% (100 Eur) welcome bonus at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups:
Dirar is doubtful for Morocco, while Ezatolahi is suspended for Iran.
Morocco: Munir – Amrabat, Benatia, Saiss, Hakimi – Ahmadi, Boussoufa – Belhanda, Ziyech, Harit – Boutaib
Iran: Beiranvand – Rezaeian, Chesmi, Pouraliganji, Mohammadi – Safi, Shojaei – Jahanbakhsh, Ansarifard, Taremi – Azmoun
Both these teams are built on rock solid defenses, particularly Iran, which has a pronounced defensive DNA, and result couldn`t be more supportive of this statement.
The Iranians allowed just two goals in 10 games in the qualifying group, both in a meaningless last game against Syria. In the last World Cup they kept a clean sheet for 180 minutes in the first two games against Nigeria and Argentina, before conceding three in the last game against Bosnia when they needed to win and opened themselves up. A similar style and performance can be expected from Iran this time around.
Morocco is more offensively gifted than Iran, but they themselves rely first and foremost on a consistent defensive effort and that was obvious in the qualifying group. Keeping 6 clean sheets in 6 matches against Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali is an amazing performance and couldn`t be more telling.
The in form Moroccans should be safe at the back with their exceptional back line against an offensively challenged Iran side which will mostly defend. On the other hand, Iran is as defensively sound as Morocco, is also in good form and will use a very cautious approach, so it won`t be easy for the Africans to find spaces.
Expect a blunt battle with Morocco dominating possession and struggling to find openings. With both sides being in fine form and well organized, there shouldn`t be many errors. While a surprising high scoring game is always a possibility, in this case it would defy stats, logic and common sense.
My tip here will be under 2 goals to be scored. Odds on the bet are dropping and are likely to continue going down. Prediction: Morocco – Iran 0-0.