Iran hosts Iraq in round 7 of the third stage of the World Cup qualification. The match will be played on Friday, January 28th at Azadi Stadium (Tehran)
Iran surprisingly consistently retains the status of the strongest national team in the region (or at least one of those). Since 1998, the Iranians have failed to qualify for the World Cup only once, in 2010. Azmoun and the company played four years ago in Russia, but they did not progress from the group as usual. Now they can prepare for a new start. In the decisive round of the current qualification, Iran lost points in only out of six rounds when it hosted the main competitor, South Korea. However, it is not surprising because there are players from ambitious clubs of the top European championships in all the lines. But now there is an opportunity to check the nearest reserve, especially without risking the tournament position (a 10-point gap from the UAE, which is ranked third). Will Dragan Skocic use it, or will he field all the strongest?
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The national team of Iraq managed to win the Asian Cup in 2007. And in the 80s, the Lions of Mesopotamia qualified for the World Cup. But in general, even by the standards of this region, Iraq is no more than an average performer. And reaching the final round of this qualification can be considered as a good achievement for this team. At this level, the results are quite contradictory. On the one hand, there are no victories after six rounds. On the other hand, the Iraqis started with a draw against one of the favorites, South Korea. And then they shared points with their opponents three more times. The first two places in the group are already unattainable, but Iraq can still compete with the UAE for 3rd line, as the gap to it is only two points.
In 2015-2019, Iraq played well against Iran and even beat it. But last year, the Iranians hammered the Lions of Mesopotamia at home with a score of 3-0. Iran is not particularly motivated now, but it is clearly much stronger. So, we offer to bet that the hosts will be able to win with a -1 handicap.