With the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicking off in 27 days, it’s time to explore another USMNT Group B opponent, the Islamic Republic of (IR) Iran.
Every day until November 20th, we’ll explore a different team represented in this year’s tournament, from Group A to Group H, including predictions about where they’ll end up.
Yesterday, we looked at the Group B favorites, the Three Lions of England. Today we’ll look at the Iranian Cheetahs, Group B’s dark horse.
Nickname: The Iranian Cheetahs, Team Melli
Colors: White, green, red
Coach: Carlos Queiroz (Portugal)
Most of Iran’s first-team players hail from Iranian and Qatari leagues, tables even less competitive than the MLS, but the Princes of Persia do have some young talent who could shake up the table. Forwards Sardar Azmoun of Bayer Leverkusen and Mehdi Taremi of Porto have 69 international goals between them, more than enough to cause Group B defenses some trouble.
Qatar will mark the sixth World Cup appearance for the Iranians, who have never made it past the group stages. In 2018, they were outclassed by Group B’s Spain and Portugal despite tying Ronaldo’s team 1-1. This past summer, Iran upset a fully-loaded Uruguay side 1-0 over the international break.
Tournament Prediction: Group stage exit.
The Persian Stars are well-positioned to be Group B’s dark horse if they can upset Wales and the US. Though every other team in Group B is favored over the Iranians, Iran’s recent form proves that they shouldn’t be overlooked. We predict Iran will lose their opener to England, tie Wales, and tie the USMNT, bowing out of the group with only two points. However – Iran’s attack is sneaky good, stealthy enough to slip surprise winners past Wales and the US. Iran has what it takes to survive group play for the first time in team history – we just don’t think they’ll actually do it.
Featured Image: Generated Image: DALL-E 2/TheIslamicRepublicofIran/DM