Wales and Iran will look to pick up their first win in the tournament when they meet at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in a Friday afternoon affair.
Iran will try to recover from the 6-2 humbling they received against England.
Wales, on the other hand, did not return empty-handed from their opening match as a late Gareth Bale penalty was enough to snatch a point away from the US.
Wales and the USA took the pitch a few hours after England cruised to a big win against Iran. So, both teams were expected to exercise caution and do their best to avoid losing. Therefore, the match had ”draw” written all over it.
USA had an excellent start to the game, and they deservingly took the lead nine minutes before halftime. Christian Pulisic set up Timothy Weah for the opener, and the US went down the tunnel with the score 1-0 in their favour.
The scoreline could have been more favourable to Gregg Berhalter’s men had they taken their chances properly.
Wales barely got a foothold in the first 45 minutes, but the USA could not put the game beyond Wales’s reach, and they ultimately paid the price for it.
Rob Page’s half-time pep talk seemed to work as Wales came out swinging in the second half. Matt Turner had to produce a series of saves to keep the scoreline unchanged, but Wales’s persistence paid off as they got a penalty in the 82nd minute and made it count.
The point can prove valuable later on in the qualification equation.
If Wales can defeat Iran, they will be favourites to progress from Group B. So, the Dragons will look to end their winless run of six games against Iran.
Iran headed into the World Cup with a 1-0 win against Uruguay and a 1-1 stalemate with Senegal. But they could not show that level of vigour against England as Gareth Southgate’s side ran riot against the Asian powerhouse.
Carlos Quieroz will try to inspire his team, highlighting that they managed to score twice against a well-drilled England side and can do better against the remaining Group B oppositions.
Iran mostly relied on their defensive strength to qualify for the World Cup.
If they can rediscover their defensive form with an improved attacking performance, they can make life difficult for a Wales side that won only once in their last nine games.
Kieffer Moore made an instant impact against the US coming off the bench. So, Rob Page might hand him a start against Iran.
If that’s the case, Daniel James should drop to the bench. Joe Allen was not involved at all in the US game, but the midfielder could be fit enough to make the bench against Iran.
Ethan Ampadu sustained a knock, if he can’t recover in time, Joe Morell will replace him in the Wales defence.
Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand will not be available against Wales as he picked up a nasty head injury during the England match.
Hossein Hosseini is set to start at goal for Team Meli.
Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun had an impressive cameo against England.
A brilliant Jordan Pickford save denied him from getting into the scoresheet. He could start the match against Wales alongside Mehdi Taremi in the Iranian frontline.
Ali Gholizadeh might also expect a start to increase chance creations.
Despite their second half resurgence, we can’t say Wales did enough to establish themselves as clear favourites for this match.
The afternoon kick off should favour Iran, who are more familiar with playing in such conditions. We are backing Iran to pick up a narrow 1-0 win.
Date: November 25
Kickoff Time: 3:30 PM
Venue: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium