At first glance, it would appear as though Group B is a foregone conclusion. Portugal and Spain are the heavy favorites to move on to the knockout stages.
Realistically, however, Morocco and Iran each have a fighting chance. With their matchup kicking off first, both teams have an opportunity to put some pressure on the group favorites, especially if Portugal or Spain takes an early loss.
The emotions will be running rampant through Morocco, a country that is playing in its first World Cup in 20 years. Iran does have the upper hand in experience, having qualified for the 2014 competition in Brazil.
World Cup schedule: Morocco vs. Iran
When: Friday, June 15, 11:00 a.m. ET
Where: Saint Petersburg, Russia, Saint-Petersburg Stadium
MORE: Full World Cup schedule
Morocco vs. Iran TV channel, live stream
In the U.S., Morocco vs. Iran will be broadcast live on FS1. It can also be live-streamed on fuboTV (7-day free trial).
Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui, Yassine Bounou, Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti;
Defenders: Mehdi Benatia, Romain Saiss, Manuel Da Costa, Badr Benoun, Nabil Dirar, Achraf Hakimi, Hamza Mendyl;
Midfielders: M’bark Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi, Youssef Ait Bennasser, Sofyan Amrabat, Younes Belhanda, Faycal Fajr, Amine Harit;
Forwards: Khalid Boutaib, Aziz Bouhaddouz, Ayoub El Kaabi, Nordin Amrabat, Mehdi Carcela, Hakim Ziyech.
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand, Rashid Mazaheri, Amir Abedzadeh;
Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian, Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh, Morteza Pouraliganji, Pejman Montazeri, Seyed Majid Hosseini, Milad Mohammadi, Roozbeh Cheshmi;
Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi, Masoud Shojaei, Saman Ghoddos, Mahdi Torabi, Ashkan Dejagah, Omid Ebrahimi, Ehsan Hajsafi, Vahid Amiri;
Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Karim Ansarifard, Mahdi Taremi, Sardar Azmoun, Reza Ghoochannejhad.
Morocco vs. Iran facts
- Morocco and Iran have never met at the World Cup. In fact, they’ve faced each other only once previously, a game which ended in a draw.
- Morocco have qualified for their fifth World Cup, their first since 1998. They have never progressed further than the round of 16 (1986), being eliminated in the group stages three times in their four previous appearances.
- Morocco have won only two of their 13 games at the World Cup (D4 L7), including five defeats in their last seven games (W1 D1). They’ve also never won an opening game in the competition (D2 L2).
- None of Morocco’s 12 goals at the World Cup have been scored from a set-piece, all of them coming from open play.
- Morocco were the only team not to concede a single goal in the third round of CAF qualifiers for Russia 2018 (6 games).
- Iran have qualified for the World Cup in back-to-back tournaments for the first time ever. However, they have never reached the knockout stages, winning only one of their 12 games (D3 L8) – against USA on 21 June 1998 (2-1).
- Iran have also only kept one clean sheet in their 12 World Cup games (0-0 v Nigeria, June 2014), scoring more than one goal only once, in their sole win against USA in 1998.
- Iran were unbeaten in their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup, winning 12 games and drawing the other six (AFC Second Round + Third Round). They also kept 14 clean sheets in those 18 games.
- This is Hervé Renard’s first World Cup as manager. The Morocco boss is the only manager to win the African Cup of Nations with two different teams (Zambia, Ivory Coast).
- Meanwhile, Carlos Queiroz is taking part in his third consecutive World Cup tournament as manager, and second in a row with Iran. His best performance was in 2010, when he led Portugal to the Round of 16 before being knocked out by eventual winners Spain.