Morocco v Iran: Back the Atlas Lions
SAINT PETERSBURG, June 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Morocco kick-off their 2018 campaign against Iran at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Friday.
The Atlas Lions will be making a return to the global tournament after missing out in the previous four editions and to ensure a decent campaign, they have played a number of tune-up games.
They will be heading into the competition on the back of an impressive 3-1 victory over Estonia, their second consecutive win.
The north Africans will be targeting maximum points against Carlos Queiroz’s men to boost their chances of qualifying for the round of 16 and can be backed at the odds of (2.30) with Bet365 to achieve the feat.
Although Herve Renard’s men have never met with the west Asians, nevertheless, (3.00) is on offer for both sides to cancel each other out.
Iran were dumped out in the group stage of the 2014 edition but were the second team to nick a place in Russia following a 2–0 home win over Uzbekistan.
They edged past Lithuania in their last warm-up game after previously suffering a 2-1 loss to Turkey. However, they have odds of (3.90) to surmount and put themselves in good stead for the knock-out stages of the tournament.
Morocco are unbeaten in their last five encounters and will be looking to maintain the form in this outing which punters can back with the same betting firm at the price of (1.28).
The Atlas Lions have scored in four of their previous five ties while Queiroz’s men have not failed to find the net in all their last 11 games. As a result, punters can reap profit by staking on both sides to score at odds of (2.25).
Considering that this is their opening game, they will likely be cautious with each other and Bet365 tips this contest to produce less than three goals at odds of 1.36).
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz believes his players have been brought closer together by Nike's decision to cut their supply of World Cup kit to the team but the acid test will come against Morocco on Friday.
Nike announced they have been forbidden from providing football boots to Iran's squad during the tournament, on account of sanctions imposed against the country by the United States.
The late decision has disrupted Iran's preparations, with some players reportedly having to buy their own footwear from Russian shops or even ask club team-mates for help.
"It has been a source of inspiration for us," Queiroz told Sky Sports.
"This last comment of Nike was, in my personal view, an unnecessary statement. Everybody is aware about the sanctions.
"They should come out and apologise because this arrogant conduct against 23 boys is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary."
Iran head into the match against Morocco in Group B on the back of a difficult build-up to the tournament overall, after friendly matches against Greece and Kosovo were also cancelled.
It remains to be seen whether Queiroz's defiant verdict bears fruit, given any loser of Friday's crunch fixture in Saint Petersburg would be left needing to beat either Spain or Portugal to reach the last 16.
"We have the potential to surprise Morocco in our first match," Queiroz said. "We know their team very well but I suspect they know very little about us."