Iran Team - 2014 World Cup Betting
Best Finish: Group Play, 1978, 1998, 2006
Manager: Carlos Queiroz
Captain: Javad Nekounam
Key Player: Javad Nekounam (Al-Kuwait)
Group F: With Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Nigeria
Iran is making their fourth-ever World Cup appearance after finishing atop of Group A in the final round of AFC qualifying matches. This team tallied a 5-1-2 (W-D-L) record to gain one of the group's two automatic qualifying bids. Two big wins against fellow qualifier South Korea pushed Iran into the 2014 World Cup. The only low points during their 5-1-2 run included a home loss to Uzbekistan and another loss to Group A's worst team, Lebanon.
The one advantage that "Team Melli" has is their emphasis on defense. Iran allowed just two goals in eight AFC qualifying games, which was four less than anybody else. South Korea can attest to how frustrating it can be to break through the Iranian back line. Although a good team, the Koreans failed to score in either of their two matches against Iran.
But as good as their defense is, this team is also a bit offensively challenged. At no time was this more evident than when they failed to score against Lebanon, losing 1-0 in the latter's only group-play win.
If they are to muster some offense during World Cup Group F matches, Javad Nekounam will play a large part in this. The team captain scored three goals during the AFC Group A qualifying phase, including one in a home victory over South Korea. Nekounam is crucial to Iran's ability to control the ball and generate quick counter-strikes after breaking up the opposition's attacks.
Two other key players for Team Melli include striker Reza Ghoochannejhad and right winger Ashkan Dejagah. Ghoochannejhad scored three goals during AFC qualifiers and will be looked upon to provide more offense for this squad. As for Dejagah, he's a very good passer who's improved quite a bit in the last two years. And he'll be pretty important in regard to putting Iran in good scoring situations.
If this team can score, they actually have a chance to get out of a fairly weak Group F. Argentina is favored by many to top this pool, however, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nigeria are both on par with Iran in terms of rankings and talent.