Iran and USA will face off in a crucial Group B clash, with both teams in with a chance to qualify for the Round of 16.

Iran performed sensationally against Wales, winning the clash late on the day. Roozbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian’s goals at the death buried the Dragons and kept Carlos Queiroz’s men in the hunt for qualification. With that victory, Iran went second in the group behind England.

The result also meant Iran could squash the tag of whipping boys in a group where the general expectation was around them failing right from the start. However, Queiroz has his men with a fighting chance to progress, and a positive result against the USA would do them good.

A win would guarantee them safe passage into the next round at the expense of the USA and Wales. However, if the Dragons beat England, there could be more twists in the group, and Iran would incredibly go through as winners.

Meanwhile, the USA will come into this game high on confidence after a terrific performance against England. The Three Lions were the favourites, but the USMNT performed admirably to have the upper hand. Christian Pulisic’s MOTM-worthy performance proved tricky for Gareth Southgate’s men.

USA still have a task and will have to beat Iran to qualify for the next round. If they do go through, Gregg Berhalter’s side will meet one of Senegal, Netherlands or Ecuador and could become one of this World Cup’s disruptive sides.

Team News & Tactics

Iran

The victory over Wales did come at a high cost for Carlos Queiroz. Star striker Sardar Azmoun, who struggled during his time on the pitch, somehow laboured for 68 minutes before being substituted. He will remain doubtful about the clash, but there is optimism over his inclusion.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh will undoubtedly miss the USA clash due to a suspension. He picked up his second yellow of the tournament and will sit out what he hopes is not the last game for Iran in Qatar.

Goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, who sat out the Wales victory due to the concussion protocol, is available again. However, since Hossein Hosseini kept a clean sheet, it is doubtful whether Queiroz will make the change.

Other than that, the team will look similar to the one that faced Wales to secure another positive result. Most importantly, Queiroz will hope for Azmoun’s fitness ahead of the USA game, as the striker seems likely to start.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): H Hosseini; Rezaeian, M Hosseini, Pouraliganji, Mohammadi; Ali Gholizadeh, Nourollahi, Ezatolahi, Hajsafi; Taremi, Azmoun

USA

Gregg Berhalter will be under pressure to pick the right team to face Iran. While they might come into the game as favourites, the USA manager will be tasked with getting things right.

The main decision would focus on naming a starting striker, something Berhalter has been inconsistent about since the tournament. Haji Wright replaced Josh Sargent in the position for the England game and performed well, and the manager might retain the former for the Iran clash.

Meanwhile, there are concerns over Giovanni Reyna’s lack of minutes at the tournament, but Berhalter is unlikely to usher the Dortmund attacker now. The team are in a good run of form and confidence, and the manager will want to maintain everything now.

Similarly, Brenden Aaronson is also not starting games, with Berhalter preferring their midfield trio of Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah and Weston McKennie, something he would continue deploying.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Turner; Dest, Zimmerman, Ream, Robinson; Adams, Musah, McKennie; Pulisic, Weah, Wright

Key Stats

  • The USA have only one victory in their last six international games across all competitions.
  • The USA are winless in this edition of the World Cup, drawing both their opening games.
  • The USA and Iran last met in the 1998 World Cup, with the Asian side securing a famous victory over their adversaries.
  • Iran have won three of their last six games across all competitions.
  • A win would see Iran qualify for the knockout stages for the first time.

Player to Watch

Christian Pulisic

The USMNT international man has been brilliant since the tournament began and is the heartbeat of his team’s attack. After a tough domestic season with Chelsea, the star attacker has come to the fore. He got things going with the assist for Timothy Weah’s goal in the game against Wales.

The game against Iran USA’s most important test of the tournament as a win is imperative to qualify for the next round. The game begs for a top-level performance from a player of Pulisic’s calibre, and all eyes will be on the USMNT star man to do so.

Prediction

Iran 0-1 USA

There is a lot of debate around the game, with the two teams equally competing for progression. While Iran were complacent against England in the opener, they were far too resilient in the Wales game. Their patchy form makes it difficult to understand how they might perform against the USA.

Gregg Berhalter’s men are in a consistent run of form and will take confidence from their performance against England. The clash against Iran promises to be cagey, but the USA may have the tools to get past them, albeit narrowly. Hence, the USMNT could secure three points against Iran and advance into the next round.

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