Iran and the United States go head to head in the final round of Group B fixtures at the World Cup, with both nations in with a great chance of reaching the knockout stages.
Iran bounced back from a heavy defeat against England by beating Wales. Ahead of kick-off, they sit second in the standings and will automatically go through to the last 16 for the first time in their history if they win – potentially even as group winners should England fail to beat Wales.
A draw could also be enough for Iran to make it through, but only if Wales don’t win.
For the United States, the World Cup has been slightly underwhelming considering their squad is full of players based at European clubs – many of whom have also played Champions League football.
They may not have won since thrashing Caribbean island Grenada in June, but avoiding defeat against England was a decent result and, like Iran, their destiny is at least in their own hands. Win and they get through, but a draw would mean elimination because Iran are already a point ahead.
Iran vs USA H2H Results (All Time)
Current Form (Last Five Games)
Iran team news
Star striker Sardar Azmoun has only managed 81 minutes across Iran’s first two games after coming to this World Cup off the back of an injury-hit start to his club season with Bayer Leverkusen.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh is suspended as a result of picking up two yellow cards so far, while Roozbeh Cheshmi is pushing for a start after scoring against Wales.
Iran Starting 11 (4-4-2): H. Hosseini; Rezaeian, M. Hosseini, Pouraliganji; Mohammadi; Gholizadeh, Nourollahi, Ezatolahi, Hajsafi; Taremi, Ansarifard
Bench: Abedzadeh, Niazmand, Cheshmi, Torabi, Karimi, Khalilzadeh, Moharrami, Kanaani, Jalali, Amiri, Ghoddos, Azmoun
USA team news
Gregg Berhalter resisted much team tinkering between the first two games, naming the same back four and midfield. The only change was Josh Sargent dropping out for Haji Wright against England. So far, the U.S. have lacked enough attacking penetration.
Giovanni Reyna’s omission as a starter has been an odd saga, with claims from USMNT legend Eric Wynalda that the Borussia Dortmund teenager isn’t actually injured as Berhalter had stated.
USA Starting 11 (4-3-3): Turner; Dest, Zimmerman, Ream, Robinson; McKennie, Adams, Musah; Reyna, Ferreira, Pulisic
Bench: Horvath, Johnson, Moore, Scally, Yedlin, Carter-Vickers, Long, De La Torre, Weah, Sargent, Roldan, Morris, Acosta, Wright, Aaronson
Even with a heavy defeat to England under their belt, Iran have arguably looked the better team across the two games so far. They finished strongly in that 6-2 defeat and probably should have scored against Wales long before they actually did.
Things haven’t clicked for the Americans so far. They let a lead slip against Wales and couldn’t find the necessary quality against England despite outshooting their illustrious rivals.
If Iran win, they will write a new chapter in their football history.
Prediction: Iran 2-1 USA