ID : N-1988 Date : 2018/06/19 - 11:50
(Persia Digest) – Sporting News writes on 18 June 2018 that Spain is still a strong favorite for the Iran clash in Kazan, as it goes in search of its first group-stage victory. But Iran will be boosted by its 1-0 triumph over Morocco on Friday, a win which has seen it top Group B.
And while goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand recognizes few will fancy Iran to add to its current points tally, he is in a defiant mood and insists Spain will be in for a battle.
"Everybody knows that Spain is one of the greatest teams in football history, and one thing that we can guarantee is that the Spanish team will not have an easy time against us," he told reporters. "Everybody knows that our boys are fighters, and we will fight and we will keep our concentration until the very last second of the match."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Iran - Sardar Azmoun
The most naturally gifted player in the Iran squad, Azmoun — who plays in Kazan for Rubin — was fairly prominent in attack against Morocco. But if Iran is to really threaten Spain, he will need to be at his very best.
Spain - Isco
Diego Costa was the star against Portugal with a pair of goals, but Iran is likely to be rather more compact than the European champions. With that in mind, Spain might need creative ingenuity to break down the defense and that is where the crafty Isco is at his best.
KEY OPTA STATS
- Iran is winless against European opposition at the World Cup, having lost five of the six previous fixtures (D1).
- Spain has been eliminated at the group stage in two of the last three World Cup tournaments in which it has failed to win its first match (1998 and 2014) — however, Spain won the tournament on the other occasion in 2010 despite losing the opener to Switzerland.
- Diego Costa has scored eight goals in his last eight international starts for Spain — he scored with both of his shots on target in the 3-3 draw with Portugal.