Wales v Iran
Wales and Iran will meet this Friday, November 25th at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium having both failed to secure 3 points in their opening group matches against England and USA respectively. Both sides will see this as a must win if they want to progress from the group stages.
Iran will feel deflated going into the game having suffered a 6-2 loss at the hands of England but will take heart from the fact they managed to score twice against one of the tournament’s favourites despite having such a poor performance and with a live threat such as Mehdi Taremi up front Rob Page won’t be taking them lightly. It was obvious the players were distracted and their minds were elsewhere given the situation back home. They looked incredibly lackluster, tame and more than anything, unrecognisable. However, with Wales and USA drawing in their opening game, this will give Iran hope going into the Wales game as they only need a win and a draw to qualify for the next round given England win all their games.
Wales put on a very underwhelming first half performance last time out but came out in the second half looking like a totally different side having changed things around at the break by bringing on Kieffer Moore for Dan James which really swung things in their favour. It took a late penalty from Gareth Bale to secure a point for Rob Page’s men but after the performance in the first half it will have felt like a win in the dressing room and they will be going into the Iran game on a high. Many Wales fans will see this as an easy win having watched them get taken apart by England, I’m not one of them.
Iran are a decent side that had an off-day against an England team that is stacked with talent and one that I believe are not over-hyped for once and have a genuine chance of winning the tournament. Add to that the fact Iran like to sit back which doesn’t suit our counter attack style of play. Rob Page will hope Iran’s need of all three points will cause them to come out and go for it and leave a few openings for Wales in attack. I think it will be another cagey affair for Wales with one or two goals being the difference.
Gareth Bale got fouled numerous times against USA and whether Hajsafi plays midfield or left back, he will be up against Bale. Hajsafi is not a quick player and so the tactic will be to give away cheap fouls to break down the play and not let Wales get into their stride by using their pacey wingers. This is where England saw a lot of success against us so I feel like Wales will try to replicate this tactic. As such, I can see Hajsafi fouling Bale, Dan James, Williams, etc.
Having put on a MOTM performance in many Wales fans eyes against USA and being the only defensive minded player in Wales’ midfield in the absence of Joe Allen, Ethan Ampadu finds himself with a lot to do putting in a lot of hard tackles in the process, one of these which resulted in a foul against him taking him up to 6 fouls in his last 4 games and with Joe Allen unlikely to be risked again he will likely find himself in the same position against Iran.
Ampadu is a player that loves a hard tackle and his track record of picking up cards in a Wales jersey proves this, picking up 4 yellows in his last two qualifying campaigns and a red card last summer at Euro 2020 as well as 3 yellows in his 10 games in Serie A this season.
There weren’t many positives to take out the England game, however one that we can cherish is the fact that the Porto striker and Iranian talisman, Mehdi Taremi scored a brace – one extremely well taken through ball and strike off the bar and the other a penalty in the dying moments of the game.
Opening your goalscoring account in the World Cup is challenging and with him taking those two goals against one of the tournament favourites, I see him with added confidence going into this game. Carlos Queiroz will certainly play more attacking players this game and so I can see him testing this Welsh backline that looked very vulnerable against the USA. 1.50 seems a pretty generous price for a shot on target, especially for a team ranked in the top 20 in the world…
Kieffer Moore only came on for the second half against USA and gave away the most fouls on Wales’ team. With him expected to start against Iran and the ball expected to be in the attacking half more often for Wales and Moore likely to be the focal point of that attack for 90 mins his presence and physicality will likely give away more fouls this time around.
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