Wales are clear favourites to claim a win but there could be some value in backing Carlos Queiroz’s men to avoid another defeat
Wales play their second match in Group B on Friday when they face Iran at the Ahmad bin Ali stadium.
Robert Page’s men battled hard in the second half of their opening match against the USA to claim a 1-1 draw, while Iran were thrashed 6-2 by England in a surprisingly poor performance from the top ranked Asian team in the competition.
When is Wales vs Iran?
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The Group B fixture will kick-off at 1 pm Qatar time on Friday, which is 10 am in the United Kingdom, 5 am EST in the United States, and 8 pm Australian Eastern Time.
Date: Friday November 25
Time: 10 am UK, 5 am US and 8 pm Australian Eastern Time.
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After England had thrashed Iran, Wales and USA went into their respective game in Al Rayyan knowing that they could ill-afford defeat, and a 1-1 draw would have been the most popular prediction pre-match.
Nevertheless, neither side particularly played in a manner where they were settling for a point, and Wales were fortunate to still be in the contest come the half-time whistle.
In the second half, it was a different story, the Dragons squandering a number of openings before Gareth Bale scored his first-ever World Cup goal from the penalty spot.
While Wales’ star man was below his influential best, his confident effort from 12 yards has put Wales in a position where their fate will be in their own hands if they can defeat Iran.
However, despite the draw being regarded as a point gained in the grand scheme of things, Robert Page’s side are now winless in six outings and have only prevailed once in nine matches.
Form counted for little as Iran were thoroughly outclassed by England, Carlos Quieroz’s side looking a shadow of the team that had previously collected a win and a draw from Uruguay and Senegal in September.
To Team Melli’s credit, they never gave up and scored two consolation goals in the final quarter, the second coming from an extremely debatable penalty decision based on the threshold which had been used previously in the match.
Mehdi Taremi’s double highlighted his threat in the attack, and a substitute outing from Sardar Azmoun after injury will only encourage Iran ahead of this contest.
Despite the presence of the aforementioned duo, Iran have not netted more than twice in a game in nine attempts, something which is ideally required as they look to reduce their negative difference.
Page has a number of selection dilemmas ahead of this encounter, including whether to include Kieffer Moore from the start after his impact against USA.
Although Daniel James would be favourite to drop out, Page may want to manage fitness levels, with Harry Wilson also in contention to drop to the substitutes’ bench.
Ethan Ampadu’s ankle knock will be monitored, with Joe Morrell on standby to deputise, while Joe Allen may come into consideration for a substitute appearance despite not featuring since September due to injury.
Iran will be forced into a change between the sticks due to concussion protocols after Alireza Beiranvand’s head injury against England.
Hossein Hosseini is in line to take his place, and Quieroz has a decision to make over whether to start Azmoun from the opening whistle.
Although three changes were made at the break on Monday, Quieroz may favour familiarity, although Ali Gholizadeh will hope for a start after supplying the assist for Taremi’s first goal.
Wales possible starting lineup:
Hennessey; Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Roberts, Ramsey, Ampadu, Williams; James, Bale; Moore
Iran possible starting lineup:
H. Hosseini; Moharrami, Pouraliganji, Cheshmi, M. Hosseini, Mohammadi; Jakanbakhsh, Noorollahi, Karimi, Gholizadeh; Taremi
Wales vs Iran Prediction
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The Dragons have relied heavily on Gareth Bale in competitive games and the former Real Madrid star delivered in their campaign opener by winning and converting a penalty. The reliability of their other attackers is questionable and they might opt to start Kieffer Moore in place of Daniel James in this game.
Team Melli have a similar problem to that of Wales, as they are also heavily reliant on Mehdi Taremi, though perhaps not to the extent of Wales’ reliance on Bale. The Porto striker scored both of their goals in the defeat against England.
They struggled against crosses and through balls and it is expected that they would’ve worked on that since the defeat.
Wales have a slight advantage in terms of squad quality and, as they usually do well in competitive games, we are backing them to secure a narrow win.
Prediction: Wales 2-1 Iran