Iran face USA in Group B on the last matchday of the World Cup group stages at the Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday evening. Both sides come into the game after positive results with USA picking up a goalless draw against one of the favourites, England, whilst Iran dramatically snatched three points, beating Wales 2-0.
The US edged the action last Friday in Al Khor with Christian Pulisic coming closest to breaking the deadlock after hitting the crossbar in the first half. England couldn’t match the youthful, athletic midfield which saw the ever willing runner, Tyler Adams claim the player of the match award. Alongside Adams, Yunus Musah and Weston Mckennie also inspired an imposing and balanced midfield display and they’ll need to replicate that performance in a key area of the field here.
Iran, despite wining, surprisingly had significantly less possession than Wales, who saw 62% of the ball. However, Iran controlled the proceedings both in and out of possession for much of the game. A much improved, resolute, defensive display ensured they corrected the errors made in the opening 6-2 defeat to England.
Leeds United’s marque summer signing, Brendan Aaronson, came on in the 77th minute to replace Weston Mckennie who is naturally a more defensively minded player. With USA struggling to create big chances, Gregg Berhalter could consider a more attacking side with the likes of Aaronson and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna starting from the off. After Iran’s performance against Wales, changing a winning 11 would be unexpected.
These two nations meet with everything to play for. Iran sit second in the group on three points whilst USA are placed in third, just one point behind. Carlos Queiroz’s side need a victory to guarantee a place in the last 16, but a point may be enough if Wales fail to beat England. In order to qualify out of the group, Berhalter’s USA team must win.
Last five matches in all competitions:
USA: D D D L D
Iran: W L L W D
Team news: Iran winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh, is suspended after picking up a yellow card in each of his side’s first two games. Alireza Beiranvand appeared to have sustained a concussion in the opening match against England which subsequently kept him out of the 2-0 victory over Wales, so Hossein Hosseini is expected to continue in goal.
After an impressive display against England, USA could persist with the same starting 11. However, the US are yet to win in their opening two matches and have only managed two shots on target throughout the duration of this World Cup.
Iran: (4-3-3): H. Hosseini; Rezaeian, M. Hosseini, Pouraliganji, Mohammadi, Gholizadeh, Nourollahi, Ezatollahi, Hajsafi, Azmoun, Taremi.
USA: (4-4-2): Turner; Dest, Zimmerman, Ream, Robinson, Mckennie, Adams, Musah, Pulisic, Wright, Weah.
Mark Marston | GWFN