In a group that contains Portugal and Spain, there is a feeling that Morocco and Iran will only be travelling to Russia to make up the numbers. However, both of these sides will enter this fixture knowing that a first round win could see them through to the Round of 16 providing they can achieve a point against either of their European opponents.
What is clear is that this match will feature a clash of defences, and it’s hard to see where a goal will come from. Iran of course qualified for the tournament with that incredible run of 12 consecutive clean sheets, and in fact have not lost a competitive fixture in regulation time since the last World Cup. Morocco have been similarly effective at the back, failing to concede a goal in their qualification campaign.
So how do you split teams who regard defence so highly? What we can be sure of is that neither team will want to draw this match. A point against the weakest side in the group (besides themselves) will only make the task easier for Spain and Portugal. Then again, neither side will want to lose, and neither have an out and out match winner in their ranks.
Iran showed in recent friendlies that they are able to change their game plan and press higher up the pitch; this was seen in matches against Russia, Panama and Venezuela who you could argue are about the same level as the Moroccans. From what we have seen, it could be Iran who dominate the play in this one.
Yet Morocco have also shown promise and are undefeated so far in 2018. Friendly wins against Estonia, Slovakia and Uzbekistan may not necessarily come as a surprise, although their March win over Serbia is a fantastic result.
It’s sure to be a low-scoring affair if history is an accurate indication – both sides score an average of less than a goal per game at the World Cup. We don’t like to sit on the fence, and are leaning towards an Iranian win, but feel as though there is a huge chance of a 0-0 draw here, which will frustrate both sets of fans.
It’s all very tight in terms of odds, and we’re surprised to see Morocco slightly ahead at +122. Iran are out at +267 which is a great value punt, but for us it has to be the draw @ +197.