Morocco vs Iran: 5 things to look out for

Morocco and Iran get their World Cup campaigns underway in Saint Petersburg on Friday afternoon.

REUTERS/Michael Dalder

The waiting is over and it’s time to get going.

Morocco and Iran do battle in Saint Petersburg knowing that this is a must-win match if either are to have any hope of qualifying from Group B.

Read RealSport’s preview of Morocco vs Iran HERE.

Whilst Morocco missed out altogether in 2014, Iran did manage to pick up a point at the last World Cup against Nigeria, before running Argentina very close in Belo Horizonte. 

With both sides fairly unknown to a mass global audience, there will be a certain level of intrigue once the two teams cross the white line on Friday.

Here are five things to look out for.

  1. 1 What boots the Iranians are wearing

    REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

    Okay, hear me out.

    Usually footballers' footwear choices aren't of too much concern to anyone over the age of 15, but the underlying political themes make this a point of interest.

    Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, known to many as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant manager at Manchester United, is furious at Nike's statement confirming that the US-based sports brand would not be supplying the Iranian players with boots this summer. 

    The statement mentioned the sanctions against Iran from the US government prohibiting them as a US based company to supply the boots for the summer. 

  2. 2 Hakim Ziyech

    REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

    Hakim Ziyech had an amazing 2017/18 season, contributing 34 goals and assists combined for club and country from his role on the left flank. 

    Full of pace and trickery, the man that turned down the Netherlands to play for the Atlas Lions will feel the hope of a nation on his shoulders as he takes to the field in Saint Petersburg, but should have the confidence to handle it. 

    Against Iran the onus will be on Morocco to be creative and break their opponents down so Ziyech will have to be at his brilliant imaginative best.

    Read more on Hakim Ziyech HERE.

  3. 3 Morocco's surprise package credentials

    REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

    Morocco are fancied by some to be surprise packages of this tournament, but to earn that tag fully they'll have to navigate their way through Group B - a tough ask. 

    If they are to get through, three points from their opener against Iran is an absolute must, with Portugal and Spain to come later.

    They are on a remarkable run of 18 matches unbeaten, although this does include matches against other African sides with only domestic based players available. 

    They kept six clean sheets out of six in qualifying, so it should be difficult for the Iranians to find any joy against them going forward.

    Read more on Morocco HERE.

  4. 4 Alireza Jahanbakhsh

    REUTERS/Osman Orsal

    Jahanbakhsh appeared in all three of Iran's games at the 2014 World Cup at the age of just 20. 

    This time however, he travels to Russia as a talismanic figure, having just won the Eredivisie's Golden Boot with 21 goals.

    He is an exciting forward, usually deployed wide on the right, with good technique and skill. 

    Iran did manage to score at the last World Cup, with Reza Ghoochannejhad, then of Charlton Athletic, pulling one back in a 3-1 defeat to Bosnia. 

    If they are to open their 2018 campaign with a goal on Friday, Jahanbakhsh would be your best bet.

    Read more about Alireza Jahanbakhsh HERE.

  5. 5 Is the Krestovsky Stadium actually ready?

    Workers are reportedly still scrambling to get the brand new state-of-the-art stadium in Saint Petersburg ready in time for the game on Friday. 

    The stadium was supposed to be finished months ago, but various rows and problems with funding have seen workers pushed into a race against time to get it done.

    There are no doubts over whether the game will go ahead, but a stadium still rough around the edges would be a huge embarrassment for Russia on just the second day of the tournament.

Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss Group B in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.

  1. POLL: What will the outcome be in Saint Petersburg?

    1. Morocco win
    2. Draw
    3. Iran win
    27 votes
    Share Your Result

Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?