#WorldCup Day 7: What to look out for
Three fixtures take place on Wednesday with the game between Iran and Spain being important for the entire group.
JOHANNESBURG - Uruguay and Saudi Arabia, from Group A, are also in action in the 5 pm kick-off. The first game of the day sees Cristiano Ronaldo and his men go up against Morocco.
Feature Match: IRAN V SPAIN
Iran Key Players:
Alireza Beiranvand (Goalkeeper)
Alirza Beiranvand played an important part in Iran’s World Cup opener against Morocco, ensuring that he got behind all the shots that were on target. He will be hoping for another impressive performance against Spain, which will be a much harder test with Diego Costa leading the line. Beiranvand’s performance led to him being awarded Man of the Match against Morocco. Iran have a great chance at progressing with another brilliant performance against a Spanish team in desperate need of all three points.
Sardar Azmoun (Forward)
The 23-year-old was brilliant up front against Morocco. The evidence was clear considering that he had more than double the number of touches compared to his Moroccan counterpart – 39 touches to an - underwhelming 14 from Morocco’s Ayoub El Kaabi. Azmoun won seven aerial duels, however, going up against Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, winning that many duels will be a bigger challenge.
Spain’s Key Players:
Diego Costa (Striker)
Following his brace against Portugal, Diego Costa proved that staying away from the first-team action for six months did not have a negative impact on his eye for goal. His physicality upfront, which has the potential to force defenders into mistakes, will be an important factor against an Iranian defence which will be looking to park the bus. The Brazilian-born striker will surely give Iran’s defence a lot to think about.
The Real Madrid star created more chances on numerous occasions against Portugal and will be looking for the key pass to find Costa up front. Iran will need to contain Isco and David Silva’s creative passes to stand a chance of taking a point – or three – from the Spanish. His threatening corners, and the occasional shot from distance – will keep Beiranvand in check throughout the ninety minutes.
Ahmed’s Prediction: Iran 0 – 3 Spain
PORTUGAL V MOROCCO MATCH PREVIEW:
A loss for Morocco would effectively signal the end of their World Cup campaign. After the last-minute loss, courtesy of an own goal, against Iran, the Moroccans need nothing short of three points against Portugal to have a chance at progressing. That will be a tough ask with a confident Cristiano Ronaldo coming off a hat-trick against a more experienced Spanish defence. Portugal go into the game as favourites. If the European champions find themselves with a comfortable lead towards the end of the game, Coach Fernando Santos may consider withdrawing Ronaldo to manage the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner’s fitness and – more importantly – to prevent injury.
Ahmed’s Prediction: Portugal 2 – 0 Morocco
URUGUAY V SAUDI ARABIA MATCH PREVIEW:
Both teams go into the match knowing what is required of them as their fellow Group A counterparts play on Tuesday evening. Luis Suarez will need to improve his finishing to beat a weaker Saudi Arabian defence which conceded five goals against Russia in the opening game. Uruguay are favourites and should win comfortably, however, Salman Al Faraj’s set pieces may be of some concern for Óscar Tabárez's men.
Ahmed’s Prediction: Uruguay 3 – 0 Saudi Arabia