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2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Iran

Iran
Alireza Beiranvand will be looking to improve on his first World Cup in 2018 when he stands in net for Iran at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Iran

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Iran.

Iran will be making their third straight World Cup appearance when they get underway in the 2022 World Cup. “Team Melli” qualified for the 2022 World Cup by winning their group in AFC qualifying ahead of South Korea. With only two losses since the start of 2020, Iran is in their best form ever. However, both of those losses came in their last five matches, including a 2-0 loss at South Korea and a 2-1 defeat at home to Algeria. 

World Cup Appearances

The 2022 World Cup will be Iran’s third straight appearance and sixth overall. Their first World Cup appearance came in 1978 at the World Cup in Argentina. Since then, they participated in 1998, 2006, 2014 and 2018.

Best Finish at a World Cup

“Team Melli” have never made it out of the group stage in any of their World Cup appearances. In fact, they only have two wins in their five prior appearances, one in 1998 versus the United States and one in 2018 versus Morocco. 

Key players

Ehsan Hajsafi captains the Iranian side and is the fourth-most-capped player for the team with 121 appearances. Hajsafi will command the defense with experienced goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand returning for his second World Cup. Beiranvand made a name for himself at the 2018 World Cup when he saved a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo to secure a 1-1 draw with Portugal. Offensively, Iran will be relying on Bayer Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmoun, Porto’s Mehdi Taremi and Feyenoord’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh to score. Both Taremi and Jahanbakhsh scored four goals in qualifying, tying them for the most goals in AFC qualifying.

Manager

Iranian manager Carlos Queiroz returned to “Team Melli” in September for his second stint as the national team’s manager. He first managed Iran from 2011 to 2019 and went 60-27-13 in that time. Since returning, he has yet to lose but has only managed two matches, a 1-0 win against Uruguay and a 1-1 draw with Senegal. Queiroz was the manager for Iran’s last two World Cup appearances and will be looking to improve on his 1-2-3 record on the world’s biggest stage.

Biggest Group Game – vs. USA on Nov. 29

This is more than just a game as the U.S. and Iran have had tense political relations for quite a while. On paper, this is also the most winnable match for “Team Melli” in a group also featuring England and Wales. If Iran wants to get out of the group stage for the first time in its history, it will need a positive result against either England or Wales along with a win against the U.S.  

Prediction

For the sixth time in six World Cup appearances, Iran will be done at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the group stage. As good as “Team Melli” looked in qualifying, they do not match up well with any of England, Wales, or the U.S. in Group B.

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