Morocco take on Iran in Group B on Friday afternoon with both sides knowing that to have any chance of progressing it’s pivotal they pick up three points from this fixture. That’s because Spain and Portugal are the other two sides in the group, which means Morocco and Iran are not expected to have extended stays in Russia.
However, that might be slightly premature thinking, with both capable of causing trouble to the European heavyweights. Given the importance of winning, this may be more open than other opening games, although a lot will rest on Morocco who are far more adventurous than Iran in their approach.
Here we will give you Morocco vs Iran betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a Morocco vs Iran prediction for the crucial clash.
Our Morocco vs Iran Prediction: Morocco 2-0 Iran
Our Morocco vs Iran prediction tips is for the North African side to emerge victorious.
Morocco have the potential to be one of the dark horses of this tournament and have impressed with their free-flowing style of play that has several quality attacking players. Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech and Younes Belhanda who spent last season with Galatasaray are unpredictable, exciting attacking midfielders who will have to unlock what is sure to be an organised, resilient Iran defence.
Iran, managed by Carlos Queiroz, displayed their defensive strengths four years ago in Brazil, almost holding Argentina and making life very difficult for whoever they came up against. And, that will be the game plan again but they will not have been pleased to be drawn in such a tough group. Nevertheless, their ability to stay in games and potential to nick a goal make them dangerous opponents for the supposedly weakest side in the group.
Our recommended tip – Morocco to win
As mentioned, we think Morocco have the ability to cause a few surprises in Russia and their style of play should win some neutral fans.
Whilst Mehdi Benatia is a superb defender at the back marshalling things, it’s in the final third where they really standout. Ziyech and Belhanda are two intelligent players who will find pockets of space, whilst Moubarak Boussoufa has great technique and dribbling skills to run from deep. Those three hold the key to success against Iran, with a strong emphasis on moving them out of position and exploiting space. They should manage that and it should result in a Morocco win, although they may have to be patient until the goals come.
The clash in Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, will be the first time these two countries have ever met, which isn’t perhaps too surprising.
Whilst you should never read too much into friendlies, these two sides head to Russia in good form. Morocco have won four and drawn one of their five warm up games, whilst there last defeat came 12 months ago, so they really are a settled team performing well.
Whereas, Iran have lost two games in the past 15 months although it’s fair to say the opposition in most cases hasn’t been the strongest and this will be a step up for the players compared to what they’re used too.
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Players to watch – Hakim Ziyech & Sardar Azmoun
We’ve already mentioned Ziyech and he has the potential to be a player who makes a real name for himself at this tournament and move on to better things. He’s already at Ajax so it’s not as if he is an unknown but he really could feature in a top league. His left-foot is superb whilst he has pace and power and outrageous skills that mean he can effortlessly beat players, which will be vital in this game.
Meanwhile, Iran will be limited in their approach and could rely on moments of brilliance themselves and that’s sure to come from Sardar Azmoun who plays in Russia for Rubin Kazan. The forward has a good all-round game, boasting good technique with a physicality that will make him a nuisance to defenders. He may be starved of quality service but the 23-year old can make things happen himself.