Iran World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections

Iran World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections article feature image

Pictured: Sardar Azmoun.

  • Iran will look to build on their 2018 World Cup showing.
  • Will they be able to take a step further and reach the knockout stage?
  • BJ Cunningham has everything you need to know.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network's staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating. 

Read on for a full breakdown of Iran ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.

Iran World Cup Preview

Iran come into the World Cup after finishing first in their qualification group over South Korea. 

You won’t find a more disciplined defensive side than Iran in this tournament. During World Cup qualifying, Iran allowed only 0.99 xG per 90 minutes. This will be their third straight World Cup, but they’ve failed to qualify out of the group stage in the last two. That doesn’t mean they haven’t put in good showings. In the last World Cup, Iran beat Morocco in their first match, lost 1-0 to Spain then ended up drawing 1-1 with Portugal on a late penalty. 

Top to bottom, this Iran roster doesn’t have much talent playing at the highest level in Europe, but they do have two really good strikers that make them frightening on the counterattack. 

Chances To…Action Projectionsbet365 Odds
Win Group Stage2.10%+1600
Advance To Knockout Round13.23%+350
Win World Cup0.02%+50000
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

Sardar Azmoun spent a number of years at Zenit St. Petersburg in the Russian Premier League ,and he made a move to Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga in January of 2022, but he has yet to fully feature for the side, playing only seven full 90s over the past year. Iran also have Porto striker Mehdi Taremi, who has scored over 16 goals and had over a 0.60 xG per 90 minute scoring rate in the Portuguese Primeira Liga over the last three seasons. 

Iran do play an ultra conservative-defensive style that didn’t show up much throughout qualification, but in their two matches against South Korea it was very evident, as it was during their last two World Cups, so they will be well-equipped to play without the ball when they take on England and the United States. 

As far as their prospects of getting out of this group? They need to beat Wales and get a result against the United States to have any shot of making it to the Round of 16 for the first time in the country’s history. 

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Key Player: Sardar Azmoun

Azmoun has been Iran’s go-to striker throughout World Cup qualifying, leading the team with 10 goals. Since his debut for Iran in 2014, he has 41 goals in just 65 appearances. He’s spent the past year at Bayer Leverkusen, and he’s yet to find his feet or get significant playing time. However, when he was the main man upfront for Zenit St. Petersburg, Azmoun was solid in front of the net. 

During the 2020-21 season, Azmoun finished one goal behind teammate Artem Dzyuba for the Golden Boot in the Russian Premier League and had a staggering 0.95 xG per 90 minute scoring rate, per 

Azmoun is an out and out striker who doesn’t really deviate from his central position on the pitch. He is also not the type of striker to take the ball at his feet and dribble past defenders. However, he is incredibly dangerous in the box due to his size and outstanding ability to win the ball in the air.

He has a tremendous ability to read crosses and get his head on the ball, which fits perfectly in Iran’s 4-4-2 system, where a lot of crosses get whipped in from the outside flanks of the pitch. 

If Iran are going to threaten the opposing goal during the World Cup, Azmoun will be a big part of that. 

Tactical Analysis

For the last two World Cups, Iran have sat in a 4-4-2, stayed very compact, and you could almost say they were playing for a 0-0 draw at times.

What is interesting is that Iran decided to bring back Carlos Queiroz to manage them for the World Cup. He was only hired as recently as September 7th after leaving his post managing the Egyptian national team up until April of 2022. Queiroz managed Iran for their last two World Cups, so we have a good idea of how they are going to try and play. 

Iran are going to concede a ton of possession and play two low blocks of four while the front two strikers do a lot of individual pressing of the opponent's back line. That will also include the midfielders. Then, once they win the ball, they will look to immediately get it to their striking duo of Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi to try to exploit opponents on the counter. 

Iran will concede a ton of shots, but a lot of them are low quality, as Queiroz puts a premium on defending the 18-yard box. In the 2018 World Cup, Iran conceded 44 shots over their three group matches against Spain, Portugal and Morocco. However, they only conceded 3.9 xG in total, so allowing under 0.10 xG per shot against the competition they faced was pretty impressive. 

Against England and USA, they are likely going to be without the ball for a majority of the match, but against Wales, they might be able to be the more possession-dominant side we saw throughout World Cup Qualifying. 

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Iran World Cup Schedule

England8 a.m. ET, Nov. 21
Wales5 a.m. ET, Nov. 25
USA2 p.m. ET, Nov. 29

Most Recent World Cup Result

Third Place, Group Stage (2018)

Iran narrowly missed out on the knockout stage in 2018, amassing four points in a group with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. They earned a point against the Portuguese, but a loss to Spain meant the aforementioned two went ahead on five points.

Iran World Cup Roster

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