GROUP B PERMUTATIONS | Iran aiming for first-ever last 16 at diplomatic foes US’s expense

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There will be tensions all round when Iran face off against diplomatic archrivals, US in the final group stage encounter of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday night. There is no love lost between the two countries and with the existing political tensions that saw the US temporarily display Iran’s national flag without the Islamic Republic emblem, much to the annoyance of Tehran, denying the US of a last 16 spot would be one of the major goals for Iran.

Iran are in second position with three points behind England, who have four points from two matches. A win for Iran against the US will secure their first-ever last 16 berth, but it is something that the US, who are third on the Group B table with two points from two draws, will want to avoid at all costs. The US need nothing less than three points from Iran. A draw will still leave the US below Iran and could be enough to see Iran progress to the last 16 depending on the outcomes of the match between England and Wales at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium at the same time.

Carlos Queiroz, who is assisted by former Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sa, is a known master tactician who believes in strong defense organization and with Iran needing a point with the expectation that England will collect maximum points against ailing Wales, an ultra-defensive approach to secure the point should be expected. But an all-out attack by the US in search of a goal that could send them to the last 16 could still be equally catastrophic for the US with Iran waiting to catch them on quick counter and break attacks.

England will leave nothing to chance against Wales. The winner of the group will face runners-up of Group A and that could be anybody between Ecuador and Senegal. That should serve as motivation for Gareth Southgate’s men to collect all points on offer against Wales. Ecuador or Senegal in the last 16 would be an easier passage to the quarterfinals than having to meet Netherlands.

Worst case scenario

A shocker of an outcome of Group B would be the unlikely situation where Wales against all odds get maximum points against England and Iran also registers a victory against the US. In such an improbable situation England would crash out of the World Cup and Iran and Wales would progress to the last 16. Highly unlikely…


England and Iran to go through