It is arguably the most unglamorous game of the FIFA World Cup, but an important one nonetheless. Portugal and Spain dominate all the conversation around Group B but Morocco and Iran will be looking to write their own story under the Russian skies.
In an ideal world, both these teams would fall short of the qualifying cut but Spain’s managerial issues have given them a ray of hope. Julen Lopetegui’s sacking has created uncertainty in the Spanish camp. A development that both Iran and Morocco would be looking to capitalize on.
While that would be the macro-analysis that Iran and Morocco would be focusing on, their short-term concern would be facing each other.
On paper, it seems to be an even battle. But, in terms of recent World Cup experience, the Asian nation trumps the North Africans. Iran had been a part of the last World Cup in Brazil, where their impressive resilience against Argentina was noted worldwide. For Morocco, this is their first World Cup appearance after France 1998. Maybe that lack of World Cup experience will be a factor?
That being said, the Atlas Lions can take solace in the fact that all of Iran’s World Cup matches against African opposition has resulted in a draw. Will the trend continue? Well, that can only be answered after the final whistle in St. Petersburg.
On a footnote, the Iranian team’s resilience amidst the sanctions imposed on the country is admirable. Due to economic constraints laid on the Asian nation, the Iranian team has had to arrange boots, as Nike football shoes have been banned from the Iranian team.