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USA vs Iran Odds, Prediction, Pick | World Cup Match Preview

USA vs Iran Odds, Prediction, Pick | World Cup Match Preview article feature image

Simon Bruty/Getty. Pictured: Christian Pulisic.

USA vs. Iran Odds

Tuesday, Nov. 29
2 p.m. ET
USA Odds-106
Iran Odds+300
Over/Under2.5 (+120 / -150)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)(+105 / -143)
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.

The math is simple for the United States in Tuesday's Group B finale against Iran. A win gets them into the round of 16. Any other result and they are eliminated in the group phase for the first time since 2006.

It's a scenario familiar for long-time American fans who remember the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when the USA needed and got a 1-0 win over Algeria on the final day of group play following two draws.

But unlike that 2010 Algeria squad, Iran also have plenty to play for. A win would guarantee their own passage to the next round for the first time in their national team's history. A draw would keep them alive and likely to progress unless Wales can pull off a shock against England in the other group B match.

This is the pair's second all-time meeting at the World Cup. Iran defeated the United States 2-1 in the second game of group play in 1998.

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USA Playing Well Despite Draws

The quality of performances by Gregg Berhalter's American side have perhaps exceeded expectations of even their own supporters.

America had a chance to kill off the game in the first half against Wales. They eventually settled for a 1-1 draw, and Wales' superiority in expected goals (xG) created owed only to a penalty needlessly conceded by American defender Walker Zimmerman.

Then, the US had arguably the better chances in the opening hour against an imposing England side, though the Three Lions may have looked more likely to break the deadlock in the final stages.

But the weakness of turning promising positions into clear opportunities remain for this group. Berhalter has started two center forwards in two games. Neither has stood out, to the point where it would be unsurprising if a third — Jesus Ferreira — got the nod in the group finale.

Christian Pulisic is having an excellent tournament, but he also hasn't translated that into a high volume of shot attempts. Overall, the Americans could probably stand to be a little more direct in attack.

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Iran a Capable and Hungry Side

If you follow the NFL, you've probably heard of "Overreaction Monday," when people make overly strong — and often inaccurate conclusions — based on the first week of the season.

That happens after the first group game of the World Cup as well, and Iran are a prime example.

After a 6-2 loss to England in which everything that could go wrong did, their tournament chances were basically written off, even though this is much the same side that nearly advanced in 2018.

Yes, some unusually poor Iran marking led to at least a couple of England's goals, but the xG data showed the run of play was considerably closer than the score, with England leading only 2.1 to 1.4.

Regardless, Iran responded in exceptional fashion against Wales, even before Wayne Hennesey's 86th minute dismissal paved the way for a dramatic finish. Roozbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian scored in the ninth and 11th minutes of second half stoppage time to complete a deserved win.

What Iran have that the Americans don't is a pure, in-form goal scorer, Mehdi Taremi. He has six in 13 games so far for Primeira Liga contenders Porto, and with two so far for his national team he could be a Golden Boot dark horse if Iran go through.

As for their manager, Carlos Quieroz's deep lying 4-2-3-1 defies the high-press trends. But if Iran can offer a sufficiently threatening counter, it's the kind of approach that gave the US fits in qualifying, where they posted a 1-2-1 record (W-L-D) against similar tactics from Canada and Costa Rica.

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USA vs. Iran Pick

The USA have surprised us but nothing that has transpired over the first two matches of the World Cup changes the fact that they are a talented but young team that tends to play to the level of their opponent.

What is also surfacing in this tournament is a team that struggles with late-game adjustments against quality foes. Between World Cup Qualifying and the tournament proper, the USA have scored the last goal only twice — in home wins against Mexico and Costa Rica — and have conceded the last goal twice on four occasions.

In this tournament, Berhalter's substitutions have either come too late — in the case of Brenden Aaronson (twice) — or have been the wrong choices.

Don't get it wrong. Berhalter has done a fine job overall, and the product has been excellent for the first hour on the field. But when you flash back to 2010, it was the very late stages that mattered most. History doesn't repeat so much as it echoes.

Iran already have four second-half goals and are the far more experienced team at this level. Quieroz is also the more experienced manager on this stage. His tactics might be a bit regressive, but he won't be afraid to make the changes he sees as required.

I'm betting Iran to score last goal here at +175 odds and an implied 36.4% probability, whether they do so by knocking out the USA, or merely as a consolation in a comfortable American win.

The Pick: Iran To Score Last (+175)

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