England vs Iran
By Dan King under the supervision of Lucas Mondelo
England is heavy favourites to progress the group as leaders, making this a must-win match. Morale and team spirit seem positive for England despite bitter club rivalries within the group.
The 26-man squad looks strong and the mood is optimistic. The only significant injury absence from the travelling group is Chelsea’s Reece James who would have been a starting right back.
Adding to the weakening on the right side of defence, Kyle Walker has been ruled out for the Iran match. It is a match the English expect to dominate and so the speedster Walker could also have been used as a right-back for this particular match.
Given those absences, Kieran Trippier looks set to begin at right wing-back. If Southgate wants to focus more on attacking then Arnold may get a surprise start, with Shaw and Tripper contesting the left side. The Liverpool man however is most likely to be used in this competition as a sub when England needs a goal.
Due to massive media and supporter demand, Southgate selected James Maddison in his squad but the Leicester City player hasn’t completely recovered from a knock on the weekend. He is rated higher than the badly out-of-form Mason Mount and Sterling, but Southgate is expected to stick with those he prefers including the above two and Maguire, who has fallen to 4th choice at his club.
Iran is a big underdog in this game but they have confidence and will be super motivated to avoid defeat. The Iranians have clarity in how to play and a very strong work ethic. Iran is led by a very experienced manager Carlos Queiroz, once of Real Madrid and best known for being assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson.
The nation has never progressed beyond the group stages but boasts a proud record of making 5 out of the last 6 World Cups.
Before citing problems with his players and leaving his post, former boss Dragan Skocic managed the team through qualifying where they mostly used a 4-3-3.
Under Queiroz in the World Cup, they are strongly expected to shape in what becomes more of a 4-5-1, with key men Taremi on the right side and Azmoun centrally in midfield. Porto star Mehdi Taremi is the one who most is expected of if Iran is to make it through the group.
There is a very minor worry with Sardar Azmoun. The Leverkusen attacker has 41 goals in 65 appearances for Iran but finished the season with a hamstring issue, though all signs are he will be available for the opener against England
Betting Analysis: 1×2
Let’s check the situation in the 1×2 market. Strong favourites England is priced at 1.37 to get the win. The draw is Iran’s most realistic hope and that is set at 4.45, while a shock Iran victory is just over double figures at 10.50.
Let’s have a look at the Asian Handicap markets for this game.
England is giving away a -1.25 @ 1.96 start to Iran which looks about fair. Iran +email@example.com are rated as a well-organized and defensive unit and so the market does not anticipate an easy game for England.
The jollies would accept any kind of win at this stage, 1-0 and 2-0 are likely results. The size of the victory may depend more on how much Iran opens up if and when they go behind.
Let’s analyse what to expect in the over/under goals market
The market expects a tight game with the line set at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the one match that the cautious Southgate may play a genuine 4-3-3, and if he uses any from the likes of Arnold, Rashford, or Maddison from the start, a more open game is likely.