The FIFA World Cup 2018 is on the way and the world is dancing to its tunes. In one of the most neck to neck encounters on the second match day, North-West Africans Morocco will be taking on Asian Powerhouses Iran in their Group B match.
The two nations will lock horns at the picturesque Saint-Petersburg Stadium from 8.30 pm IST. In spite of the apparent lack of big names, this encounter is surely going to be one to behold for all the fans across the globe.
Here are the players you should keep an eye on:
1) Medhi Benatia:
The Juventus defender will lead the North-West Africans from the back, as well as on the field when the Moroccans open their campaign today. Considered to be one of the the best in the world in his position, he is surely Morocco’s most well known and influential player on the pitch. Moroccan fans will look upon him to recreate his club form while leading his country at the biggest stage of all.
2) Hakim Ziyech:
The Moroccan fans all across the world can feel lucky that the 25-year old attacking midfielder, who represented Holland in U-19, U-20 and U-21 levels, opted to represent his country of origin at the senior level. The Ajax midfield superstar will be looked upon by Herve Renard to provide the much needed creativity at the attacking third. Do watch out for his brilliant free-kicks as well in and around the box.
3) Ayoub El Kaabi:
The 24-year old forward only made his national team debut earlier this year. But the former Casablanca man has already grabbed the headlines by scoring 11 goals in 10 games, with a goal per game ratio of 1.1. With his given form, the Iran defense will have a tough time coping up with the talented forward.
1) Ehsan Hajsafi:
The Olympiacos midfielder is Iran’s most experienced player in the current squad. The 7th most capped Iranian with 93 caps, will be the pioneer for Iran’s midfield battle when they battle the former African Cup of Nations champions.
2) Alireza Jahanbaksh:
The 24-year old winger is one of the most sought after young talents in the world of football. The AZ man created history when he became the first ever Asian to become the highest scorer in a major European League; he scored 21 goals in the Eredivisie 2017-18 season for the Dutch side. Iranian fans can surely look up to him for finding the back of the net against Herve Renard’s side.
3) Sardar Azmoun:
Talking about goals, no one has scored more goals for the Persians in recent times than their new age superstar Sardar Azmoun. Still only 23, he is already Iran’s 5th highest score ever with 23 goals in 31 games. In Iran’s tremendous qualifying campaign, the Rubin Kazan forward scored 11 goals. Carlos Queiroz will surely look no further than the FC Rostov forward to terrorize the Moroccan back-line.
Morocco and Iran are going to play each other for the first time at the biggest stage.
One very interesting fact about both the team is that neither have never won their opening FIFA World Cup match.
Both the teams will look to set that record straight and get off to a good start.
With Spain and Portugal being the other two sides in the group, it is needless to say, today’s encounter will be a must win for both side to keep their hopes of making it to the knock-outs alive.
Munir Mohamedi; Hamza Mendyl, Romain Saiss, Mehdi Benatia, Achraf Hakimi; Hakim Ziyech, Mbark Boussoufa, Younes Belhanda, Karim El Ahmadi, Noureddine Amrabat; Ayoub El Kaabi.
Ali Beiranvand; Milad Mohammadi, Morteza Pouraliganji, Roozbeh Cheshmi, Pejman Montazeri; Masoud Shojaei, Ehsan Haji Safi, Omid Ebrahimi; Vahid Amiri, Sardar Azmoun, Alireza Jahanbakhsh