The first action in World Cup 2018 Group B sees Morocco take on Iran at the Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg on Friday.
Group B also includes Portugal and Spain and you can read our outright preview for this quartet here.
Morocco came through their African qualifying group unbeaten and given they finished 4 points clear of Ivory Coast with Gabon and Mali also missing out, that form warrants respect. They won 3 and drew 3 of their qualifiers, scoring 11 goals and one stand out stat is they didn’t concede on their way to booking their place in the finals for the first time since 1998.
Morocco also looked good in AFCON 2017 coming through their group unbeaten with 7 points but they lost 1-0 to Egypt in the first knockout round.
Morocco have won 4 of 5 friendly internationals this year and most recently they drew 0-0 with Ukraine and beat Slovakia (2-1) and Estonia (3-1).
Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia), Yassine Bounou (Girona), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger)
Defenders: Medhi Benatia (Juventus), Romain Saiss (Wolves), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid), Hamza Mendyl (LOSC)
Midfielders: M'barek Boussoufa (Al Jazira), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Faycal Fajr (Getafe), Amine Harit (Schalke 04)
Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor), Aziz Bouhaddouz (Saint Pauli), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes), Mehdi Carcela (Standard de Liege), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax).
Former Bafana coach Carlos Queiroz takes Iran into the finals on the back of an Asia region qualifying campaign which saw them finish unbeaten with 6 wins and 4 draws. They finished all of 7 points clear of South Korea in that group but they are still rated as rank outsiders in this quartet.
In the 2014 World Cup finals Iran started with a 0-0 draw against Nigeria before losing to Argentina (1-0) and Bosnia &H (3-1)
Iran have been busy with friendly matches, winning 4 and losing 2 this year. Most recently they beat Uzbekistan (1-0) in May and earlier this month they lost 2-1 to Turkey and beat Lithuania 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo).
Defenders: Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Ramin Rezaeian (Ostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Alsaad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal).
Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Haji Safi (Olympiacos), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis).
Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Mehdi Taremi (Al Gharafa), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest).
Recent Head to Head
The Betting - Bet Now
Note, odds quoted are an approximate average and are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change
With Portugal and Spain the hot favourites to take the 2 qualifying places from this group this is a massive game for both nations and 1 they dare not lose. Iran’s performances in qualifying suggest they are being written off prematurely but I would say Morocco’s qualifying record against the likes of Ivory Coast trumps that.
Bets: Morocco to win at 12/10
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