World Cup 2018: Portugal versus Iran - preview, team news, predicted XI, head to head and key stats
The second set of matches of Day 12 of the World Cup see reigning European Champions Portugal taking on Iran along with Spain taking on Morocco simultaneously. In a group where the goal difference might be key to determine who qualifies as first from Group, Portugal will be looking to increase its tally by firing a couple or more goals albeit with the knowledge that a loss against Iran will result in them being knocked out of the tournament instead of Iran.
Portugal entered the tournament as the reigning European champions and started off their campaign by showing just why they are the reigning champions of Europe by salvaging a 3-3 draw against a much favoured Spanish team courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo masterclass.
The second match of the Portuguese showed the other side of the champions as they showed resiliency over an inspired Moroccan team, who despite outclassing the Portuguese in every department failed to score a goal, thus being the first team to be eliminated from this World Cup after a 4th-minute header which ultimately settled the result in favour of a 1-0 victory for the Portuguese. A point against Iran will see the qualifying into the knockout stages of the tournament.
Iran started their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory in virtually the last minute of the match against Morocco courtesy of an unfortunate Aziz Bouhaddouz. The second round saw them facing pre-tournament favourites Spain, after an exciting match of football Iran were unlucky to go down to a very lucky Diego Costa goal which ultimately settled the match 1-0 in favour of the former champions. A victory against the reigning European Champions will result in Iran qualifying to the knockout stages of the World Cup for the very first time in their history.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz may be without the service of Olympiakos defender Ehsan Hajsafi who subbed of due to injury in 1-0 loss to Spain.
Portuguese coach Fernando Santos will also most likely miss the service Joao Moutinho after missing several days of training through illness.
Portugal XI: Rui Patricio, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro, Cedric Soares, William Carvalho, Joao Moutinho, Bernardo Silva, Joao Mario, Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo
Iran XI: Ali Beiranvand, Ehsan Haji Safi, Morteza Pouraliganji, Ramin Rezaeian, Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi, Vahid Amiri, Omid Ebrahimi, Karim Ansarifard, Mehdi Taremi, Sardar Azmoun
Head to Head Stats
Iran will be taking on Portugal for the 2nd time in the World Cup after a second-half penalty by a familiar face, Cristiano Ronaldo, gave a 2-0 victory for Portugal over Iran when they first met each other in 2006.
Some stats to look forward to in this encounter
Iran is winless against European opponents with 6 defeats in their 7 previous World Cup encounters with the Europeans teams.
Portugal has won 3 of their 4 previous meetings with an Asian team with the only defeat coming in 2002 against South Korea.
No stats can complete without mention of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portugal talisman has scored each of his country's last five goals at the World Cup (the last player to do so for a particular nation was Oleg Salenko for Russia in 1994, 6 in a row).
Joao Moutinho could earn his 113th cap against Iran, overtaking Nani to become Portugal's third-most capped player.
Current Iran national coach Carlos Queiroz had two spells managing Portugal during 1991-1993 and 2008-2010 overseeing a 7-0 victory over North Korea, their biggest margin of victory in this competition.
Portugal vs Iran (Group B)
Match date: 25 June 2018, Monday
Match time: 23:30 IST
Match venue: Mordovia Arena, Saransk - Russia