Qualification is up for grabs when Iran take on Portugal at Mordovia Arena on Monday the 25th of June 2018.
Iran’s Portuguese coach, Carlos Queiroz will mentor his side against Portugal in a critically-decisive Group B clash. Portugal need at least a draw to progress to the last 16 while a win for Team Melli, would see them qualify ahead of the Portuguese. So, let’s predict how this mouth-watering encounter is going to unfold…
Iran v Portugal | Group B | Monday 25 June | Mordovia Arena (20:00)
To Win (90 Mins)
The hardworking Team Melli must really feel hard done by pity after putting on a good shift only to lose 1-0 against Spain. That came off the back of a 1-0 victory over Morocco in the opener which has placed them in third position with three points after two rounds of fixtures.
The Iranians head into this one needing nothing short of a victory to make the last 16 at the expense of Portugal or improbably, Spain if they lose by a huge margin against Morocco.
Carlos Queiroz knows Cristiano Ronaldo like the back of his hand as the superstar played under him during his time as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant coach at Manchester United.
The duo reunited between 2008 and 2010 as Queiroz coached the Portuguese national team. It will be interesting to see how he stops the talisman who has scored four goals in two matches.
Portugal have managed to collect four points in two matches after a 3-3 draw against Spain and a 1-0 victory over Morocco. All their four goals in the tournament so far have been scored by Cristiano Ronaldo!
The European champions need at least a draw to make the last 16 and they’ll have their work cut out for them against a hardworking Iranian side.
Fernando Santos has eulogised his captain but warned that football is a team sport. “Whether it’s Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid or the Portuguese national team, we all know that Cristiano makes a difference wherever he plays.
“I was his trainer at Sporting when he went to Manchester and he has shown very clearly what he can do. But I have to say that this is not just Cristiano against Iran. It’s Portugal against a very strong team, the best team in Asia in my opinion.”
Ronaldo will also be looking to outscore Harry Kane who is now on five goals after his hat-trick against Panama and steer clear of Romelu Lukaku and Diego Costa who are tied with him on four goals.
Verdict: Portugal 6/10
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the Portuguese side managing to grind out results against even against some of the best teams in the world. I’m expecting Team Melli to give them a run for their money but unfortunately for them, quality will be the difference here.