Iran are widely predicted to be one of the tournament’s whipping boys this summer and it really hasn’t helped their cause that they have been dropped into Group B alongside big-guns Portugal, Spain and lively outsiders Morocco. Many expect them to fill the wooden spoon position and go home without a point to show for their efforts.
We’ll get a good idea of how they will handle themselves in game one when playing Morocco on Friday 15th June, live on ITV from 4.00pm. You’ve got to think that will be their only chance of getting anything on the board. Bookmakers have Team Melli priced at 12/5 (Betfair) to win the match, outsider of three, with the draw more likely at 9/4 with the same firm.
Flicking through their potential line-up we look at three players who could make a difference in the group of death and how you can profit from backing a side priced 750/1 to win the trophy and just 1/9 to head home after 270 minutes…..
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Striker showing real promise
Far from the poster boy of Russia 2018 but Azmoun is rated as his team’s best chance of scoring and you’ll find him as a 4/1 favourite to hit more than any other in the colours of Iran. The fact no goal scorer is second fav tells its own story on that one. The young striker has plenty of promise and has already won himself a contract at Rubin Kazan where he bagged five goals in his first 26 games. 23 years old, 6ft 1inch tall and with a striker’s instinct he’ll be looking to put himself in the shop window.
Azmoun has turned out for Iran at every stage of his development as a player from under-17 through to the senior squad and already has 23 goals in 31 at the top level. Helped himself to five in Kazan’s last eight games as he builds confidence before making the short trip to join his international team mates. We make Sardar the star of the show in this line-up and he’ll take any chances that come his way.
Will be expected to pull his weight in front of goal and lend a helping hand to Azmoun. It’s highly unlikely Iran will play attacking football in June with one man trusted to lead the line but Taremi will certainly feature after bagging 11 goals in 23 call-ups. Has experience coming through the youth set-up of Iran but the average club football fan won’t have heard his name mentioned too often.
Currently employed by Al-Gharafa in the Qatar Stars League so this will be a massive step-up in class but the 25-year-old attacker does have confidence in his locker and will look to impress in the build-up and force his way into the manager’s plans. We expect him to travel and take a place on the bench at the start, but he should get a share of game time as Azmoun can’t be expected to do it all himself.
Followers of the English Championship will know Delagah as the Nottingham Forest recruit who also turned out for London club Fulham between 2012 and 2014. Hasn’t featured for The Tricky Trees as much as he would’ve expected this year, but his CV will ensure he can’t be left at home to follow his teammates on TV. May be a little rusty in terms of sharpness but will arrive fit and ready to do a job in the backline.
Forest published a list of players they will be realising this summer and it included the name of Dejagah meaning this tournament also rates as his chance to impress and win a move to another decent side. We don’t expect him to encounter too many problems finding employment and the fact he made Iran’s preliminary 35-man squad shows the manager still has faith in his ability.