Iran vs USA Prediction
29th November 2022
22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT
Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Played:1 Iran Wins:1
Iran vs USA Prediction Match Overview
Iran vs USA in the third round of matches in Group B sees political adversaries compete for what in all likelihood will be the runner-up spot in the group and a ticket to the round of 16. Despite putting in a hugely impressive performance in earning a 0-0 draw against group favourites England, the USA find themselves in 3rd place on two points following a 1-1 draw against Wales in their group opener.
Iran on the other hand recovered admirably from a heavy 6-2 defeat to the English and justified some of the pre-tournament hype by outplaying Wales before belatedly getting their just rewards in injury time to win 2-0. If either team manages to win here, they will automatically qualify for the round of 16. However, if the game ends in a draw, Iran could be waiting nervously for the result of England – Wales to filter through, as a Wales victory would result in their qualification on goal difference.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play:
Will not play: Beiranvand, Jahanbakhsh (Iran)
Iran vs USA Prediction Analysis
The Wide Areas
The Americans in particular excel in the wide positions, and it’s in this area that the game could be won and lost. The USA had 45% possession against the English, transitioning rapidly where they could and using their full backs as outlets to help them beat the press, but against the Iranians, it’s expected that they will have north of 60% as Iran will prefer to wait for the right moment to flood forward as they did against the Welsh. The Iranians won’t operate a low block as such but they will be wary of the threat from overloads that the Americans possess so we think that the likes of Rezaeian and Mohammadi will have their hands full defensively. In turn, the Americans will need to be wary of the threat that Ramin Rezaeian poses on the right-hand side.
Another way of looking at this is that the American wide men won’t have the same space to run into and as the play becomes more compressed they will be reliant on their fullbacks and wingers to make intelligent decisions or risk attacks breaking down while leaving them at the mercy of the same kind of impressive counter-pressing and fast transitions that the Iranians managed repeatedly during their 2-0 victory over Wales. Both sides must get the balance right here – Iran will be aware that the Americans possess potent attacking weapons in these areas. However, they’ll also understand that they can’t play entirely reactive football either, as this will hurt their ability to quickly get their attacking threats into advanced positions when the US attack breaks down or they can force a turnover.
The Battle for Midfield
The US benefitted hugely from some impressive performances in central midfield against England, with Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah proving to be a coherent unit in a game that many expected them to lose. The Iranians will pose a different challenge here, as the Americans are expected to have the lion’s share of possession, so their ability to retain possession will be in full focus. McKennie in particular is adept at retaining possession and making the best decisions when in possession so the Americans will find him to be a useful outlet.
Iran prefer to sit off a bit and use the midfield as a conduit to win the ball at the right moment and transition quickly to their dangerous frontmen and also on the flanks if the opposition leaves spaces in behind, so the likes of Hajsafi, Ezatolahi and Noorollahi are normally defence-first players who will look to protect, win the ball and look for an opportunity to get the ball to Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi and Ali Gholizadeh in space.
It’s in their talented attacking duo of Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi that Iran pose the greatest threat, with both players proving difficult to handle at times in this World Cup. Azmoun is very difficult to pick up and will require some special attention to ensure that the Iranians can’t bring him into the game as often as they would like. Taremi perhaps wasn’t quite so impressive last time out but remains a goalscoring threat who doesn’t require much time or space to produce the unexpected, so concentration levels in the US back line will need to remain high throughout, even if they’re dominating possession.
The USA will need a bit more from their frontmen in this one. They failed to capitalise on their chances against the Welsh and despite an impressive team performance against the English they didn’t really do enough to justify a victory so they will be looking to create high-quality opportunities this time out via the intelligent movement of Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah in particular. Haji Wright provides them with a focal point of attack and will hope to keep Iran’s central defenders sufficiently occupied. Iran showed weakness defensively against the English so the Americans will hope they can keep the Iranians on the back foot and generate opportunities via overloads and clever off-ball movement.
Iran Key Players
Azmoun showed why the hype was justified against the Welsh. Despite not scoring himself, Azmoun tormented the Welsh defence at times and was desperately unlucky not to score in the second half. A highly elusive attacker, Azmoun suits Iran’s system perfectly as when the Iranians can win the ball and start the counter he has the ability to consistently make himself available to receive the ball in advanced areas.
As the Americans look to turn the screw in possession, they’ll need to be aware of the threat that Ramin Rezaeian poses on the right-hand side. Able to traverse incredible distances up and down the flank, Rezaeian gives the Iranians another attacking outlet, particularly on the counter, that cannot be ignored as Wales found to their peril.
USA Key Players
At times, the USA will need to be patient with their buildup play and they won’t want to squander the increased possession they are likely to see in this game, which is where Fulham’s Antonee Robinson will be so important. He provides the ability to create overloads on the left-hand side to give the Americans another outlet in possession, to help prevent their attacks from breaking down in congested areas. On the right-hand flank, Sergino Dest will be looking to do the same of course but Robinson was the more impressive of the two against England.
Put simply, the US may require a goal from nothing if they’re unable to prise open the Iranian defence and Pulisic is perhaps the most likely to do so. His technical quality and off-ball movement will also be crucial for the Americans in trying to keep the Iranians guessing, and to ensure that they have enough space to operate in as the Iranians will surely have to track him closely. The Americans will be hoping that Pulisic will be able to attack directly and put Iran under pressure from the first whistle.
Iran vs USA Prediction
The Americans have to go for it here because it’s likely that Iran only require a draw to progress through to the knockout stage. The US found it difficult to capitalise against a poor Wales side, and, despite an impressive outing against the English, they face a different tactical encounter here; Iran have proven their worth on the counterattack during their 2-0 victory over Wales, and as long as they’re able to keep it tight they’ll know they can bide their time until presented with the right opportunities.