Iran to make knockouts after USA grudge game win
Iran's late, late show against Wales has left their 2022 World Cup fate largely in their own hands in Group B. If the Dragons unexpectedly beat England in the other game taking place simultaneously, Carlos Queiroz's men will need to do the same against the USA, barring a wild goal difference swing to put the Three Lions in third in the unlikely scenario a draw would be sufficient for his charges. For the USMNT, they simply have to get the three points to qualify, regardless of the outcome elsewhere. So much is riding on the grudge clash on Tuesday night at the Al Thumama Stadium where there is no scenario that both can advance. Read our preview here:
Not Tar-red with the same brush
Team Melli always looked the likelier to win in the Wales match, but it took a VAR decision to make goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey's yellow card a red one that really tipped things in their favour, which ultimately told in the dying minutes. Feyenoord forward Alireza Jahanbakhsh is suspended for the biggest game in their recent history, though he might have only started on the subs' bench in any case. Hossein Hosseini is set to continue between the sticks, deputising for the concussed Alireza Beyranvand. The 4-2-2-2 shape will look to send their adversaries out wide and absorb any attacks that come through the middle, then counter with pace and purpose when the chance arises. Theoretically, the onus is not on them to win but avoid defeat, though going into any match with that mentality, let alone a monumental one such as this. The main goal threats will be Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi, with the latter bagging both strikes against England. As a pair, they look more directly threatening than anyone in the opposition ranks at the tournament.
Having held Gareth Southgate's outfit to a goalless draw in an encounter that they could've nicked, Gregg Berhalter will be all too aware of how huge the occasion is, even putting all of the politics aside. They have to show more attacking intent and craft to break down a back four that never looked like being breached by Wales, which could mean Josh Sargent starting through the middle to give them a focal point in the triumvirate up top. Yunas Musah and Weston McKennie both started last time out, and shackled an extremely talented England midfield. Here, the emphasis will be on linking up with the front men and making the most of play in wide areas via the full-backs, particularly Sergiño Dest on the right.
The USA have to come out swinging, which might play into Iran's hands the longer the game goes on without them conceding. They themselves cannot settle for a draw unless the gap is wide between England and Wales in the other game, which is bound to be communicated to the players on the pitch. They have the quality in the right moments to put everything that's going on in their own nation and elsewhere in Qatar to one side and claim another famous World Cup win over USMNT, a triumph which will see them advance to the knockout stages for the first time ever, too. Parimatch have odds of 3.80 for a famous Iran win.