Krestovsky Stadium - World Cup Group B
Morocco and Iran get their World Cup campaigns off to a start in the opening Group B game on Friday. With Portugal and Spain also in the group, this is a must win for both of these teams.
This will be the first time these countries play each other. However, they were scheduled to play a friendly back in January 2017, but that meeting was cancelled.
Dutch Footballer of the Year Hakim Ziyech will spearhead Morocco’s challenge in Russia. Forward Ayoub El Kaabi is the only player who’s into double figures when it comes to international goals, after scoring 11 times in 10 appearances for the Atlas Lions so far.
Another Eredivisie star, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, is the main man for Iran. Able to operate on either wing, he won the Dutch league’s Golden Boot award after bagging 21 goals, and needs to start replicating that form for his national side.
Morocco v Iran Preview and Predictions
Defeat for either of these two would surely spell the end of their World Cup campaigns before they’ve even started. In truth though, neither side will expect to get out of Group B with Spain and Portugal around.
Morocco come into this game as the favourites at 27/20, despite actually being ranked four places lower than Iran in the FIFA rankings. The Atlas Lions are currently rated as the 41st-best side in the world, while Team Melli are 37th.
Those placings will count for little when the whistle goes at the start of the game though, with Iran priced at 29/10 for the win. The team coached by Carlos Queiroz have only lost two of their 12 games in the last year, and in Sardar Azmoun they have a forward with 23 goals in 33 international appearances.
Their opponents are also unbeaten in their last 12 games, a run that includes victories over South Korea, Ivory Coast and Serbia. Guided by Frenchman Herve Renard, Morocco are built on a solid defence and qualified without conceding a goal. A draw wouldn’t do much good for either team, but is available at 51/25 in the betting.
Morocco to win to nil at 23/10
The Atlas Lions are favourites for this game, and their mean defence has only conceded 11 goals in their last 23 matches, so there’s a good chance they’ll keep another clean sheet here.
Azmoun to score first at 8/1
The Ruben Kazan forward only scored five goals in 26 games in the Russian Premier League this season, but he’s prolific at international level and could be worth a shot at those odds.