The tilt between Morocco and Iran will be played at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 15th. The Atlas Lions are slight favorites on this one and are in an excellent form with a very good squad, so Morocco can be considered a dark horse in this group as a team who can spoil Portugal and Spain plans.
Morocco vs. Iran
Three-Way: 1: Morocco +129; X: +200 Draw; 2: Iran +290
Spread -0.5: Morocco +114; Iran -149
Total 2.5 goals: Over +210; Under -278
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The road to the World Cup
Morocco made it to the World Cup for the fifth time and first since 1998, and although they only advanced from the group stage once, they become the first African nation to do it, back in 1986 in Mexico.
On the other hand, Iran will also participate in their fifth World Cup and second in a row as they played four years ago in Brazil, but finished the competition early with a draw and a couple of defeats, and that could repeat again here. The Iranians recorded only one victory in 12 games at the World Cup and it was in France 1998 when the beat the USA.
The Atlas Lions haven’t lost in more than a year and are undefeated in the previous 18 games (W14, D4), so nobody cannot be underestimated the squad that is the strongest in the nation’s history. Morocco won four out of the last five friendly games including against better (on paper) opponents such as Serbia, and the only draws came against Ukraine. They beat Estonia in the latest clash as Belhanda, Ziyech, and En Nesyri scored in a 3-1 win.
Iran played ten friendlies since the last October as recorded seven wins with two losses to Tunisia and Turkey, but they didn’t face strong opponents, usually playing against the weaker rivals who are not competing here, which certainly will not help them at the World Cup.
Players to watch
The striker Ayoub El Kaabi scored 11 goals in ten caps for Morocco, which is a phenomenal record, but I would like to highlight the No. 10 YounèsBelhanda who pulls all the strings from the middle of the park. Belhanda is operating as an attacking midfielder and will be the main organizer of all Morocco’s attacks, so I expect his passes to slice Iran’s defense and create opportunities to forwards.
The Iranian winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh is coming off a fantastic season at AZ Alkmaar when he became the first Asian player to be a top scorer in one of the top European leagues, so it’s evident that he will represent the biggest threat to Morocco’s goal.
- Morocco kept the clean sheet in all six games in the last round of WC qualifications
- Iran kept eight clean sheets in their last 13 matches
- Iran allowed more than one goal only twice in 35 games, a run stretching back to March 2015
- Iran scored just three goals in their previous six games at the World Cup
These teams haven’t met before, and although it will probably be a low-scoring affair, I am giving a slight advantage to the Moroccans, so I would pick them to win instead of playing on the goals. The odds offered by Delaware Park Sportsbook are going in favor for Morocco’s win, but if you like for the safer option, you can go with a double chance.
The Pick: Morocco to win (+129)