FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 – Iran vs Portugal PREVIEW
Not many people really saw this coming, but the importance of this game is massive. Iran can eliminate Portugal by winning this game and with the way they’ve played you wouldn’t really guarantee that it will be straight forward for Portugal. Iran have been impressive, but Ronaldo has been out of his mind so far. Portugal are expected to hold off and beat Iran, but with their well drilled defence Iran will make it tough and who knows maybe we will see a shock?
Probably one of the biggest surprises this tournament the way they’ve played. Iran have been one of the better defending teams at this tournament which doesn’t really come as a surprise given the way Carlos Queiroz have drilled them over the years. Iran won the opening match over Morocco 1-0, but then lost 0-1 to Spain which was actually a very good performance by Iran. They of course kept Morocco out and beat them late, but the luck they got in the 1st game, ran out against Spain in the second game. Not only the goal they conceded was very unfortunate where the ball deflected to Costa and somehow went in without him knowing much about it, but also Iran scored and their goal was disallowed by VAR due to offside. It was a heart breaking defeat for Iran, but also was a very proud performance. They created some decent chances but couldn’t take them. Iran players have literally been laying everything on the line at this world cup and their nation can be proud of what they’ve achieved even if they don’t advance. First world cup win since 98 and a very proud performance against Spain, reminded of the one they put on against Argentina in 2014 when they got beat by a moment of magic by Messi. Now of course Iran can’t dwell on that loss, they have to move on where they still are within a chance of advancing, it’s just that they have to deal with Portugal and Ronaldo is in red hot form.
Now coming into the game against Portugal, Iran are aiming to achieve something they’ve never done and that’s to advance to the 2nd round of the World Cup. With the way they performed, you surely wouldnt put it against them to pull this off would ya? They showed a really good fight against Spain, nearly stole a point, beat a Moroccan side which caused Portugal problems and have really just been tough nut to break. Of course stopping Ronaldo will be a near impossible task especially with the way he’s been playing, but let’s say they do catch Ronaldo on a bad day and Portugal just can’t click then everything is there to take. Iran haven’t been absolutely hopeless going forward, they do love to put a ball in the box and have caused both Morocco and Spain a lot of trouble with their crossing. If Iran can put in a solid, well organised performance which they tend to do almost always under Carlos Queiroz, then there is a chance. They just have to keep believing.
It’s been an interesting start by Portugal for sure. Ronaldo has completely carried this team so far and hasn’t had much help if we’re being honest going forward. Against Spain, Ronaldo bagged a hattrick in a 3-3 draw and then they struggled but eventually beat Morocco 1-0 in a game where they got outplayed for the most part and could count themselves lucky as Morocco wasted a few good chances. Ronaldo scored the only goal in that game. So far Ronaldo has scored all 4 of Portugal’s goals. That first game was really a crazy end to end game, but in the second game we saw Portugal perform the way they did at the Euros, stubborn defensively grind out football which eventually got them a result. A draw or a win against Iran puts Portugal in R16, if they can win by a bigger margin than Spain then they’ll top the group and face either Uruguay or Russia and a loss eliminates them. Portugal have not looked convincing, but they have been doing their job so far, a good point against Spain and all 3 pts against Morocco just like expected. Coming up against Iran it won’t be easy, but surely you’d expect Portugal to get the job done led by Ronaldo.
Got to expect Portugal to pick up a result against Iran. Seems like they have gained a winners mentality, they know how to grind out results. Portugal have something Iran doesn’t and that’s Ronaldo and if he’s clicking and continuing to show good leadership then Portugal are in good hands. It’d be helpful is someone else like Bernardo Silva or Guedes provided a little bit more threat going forward because so far Ronaldo has lacked support up front. Defensively Portugal need to make sure to deal with Iran’s set pieces and their crossing overall because that’s how Iran have punished Morocco and nearly done so against Spain. This is the type of game Portugal can thrive on, high pressure situation something they’ve been dealing with tremendously over the past couple of years. If Ronaldo’s clicking, gets more support from other players going forward and they deal with long balls at the back then Portugal will have a comfortable evening.
Can’t really see Ronaldo allowing Portugal to be bounced out. One way or the other they’ll at least pick up a draw, a win more likely. Portugal have faced these high pressure situations before and know how to get a result out of this. Iran do lack quality in the final third and you’d expect Portugal to deal with them. It could very well be an even game, but Portugal have the best player in the world on current form and that will be the difference. Expect Ronaldo to continue to show his goal scoring form. Iran will put up a fight but will come out as losers eventually which wont diminish the fact that they’ve had a world cup to be proud of. Portugal to win 2-0 with a Ronaldo brace.
1-2 Portugal 4 pts +1 GD
1-2 Spain 4 pts +1 GD
3 Iran 3 pts 0 GD
4 Morocco 0 pts -2 GD
ODDS – Decimal (WilliamHill)
Iran Win – 5.50
Draw – 3.50
Portugal Win – 1.67
KICK OFF – 25th June 2018 – 7pm UK Time