Iran vs. Portugal: Team News, Live Stream, TV Info for World Cup 2018

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2018

TOPSHOT - Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his opening goal for Portugal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Portugal and Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 20, 2018. (Photo by Juan Mabromata / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS        (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
JUAN MABROMATA/Getty Images

It's crunch time for Portugal and Iran in Group B on Monday, as they will battle for a spot in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup.

Portugal, on four points, have a slight advantage over Iran, on three points, going into the third round of group games. Spain, who face Morocco at the same time, are also on four points and only need a draw to ensure qualification to the knockout stages.

Assuming they can accomplish that feat, Iran need a victory to keep their World Cup dream alive, and they have shown plenty in their outings to suggest they are capable of springing an upset. Portugal, meanwhile, appear tough to beat and boast an apex goalscorer in Cristiano Ronaldo.

It's the first vital match in Round 3 of the group stage and is consequently poised to be a tense occasion.

              

Team News

Fernando Santos is unlikely to deviate from the formula that has brought Portugal four points, especially with just a point needed to progress. Iran are set to be without Ehsan Hajsafi, who hobbled out of the game against Spain.

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Cedric Soares, Jose Fonte, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro; William Carvalho, Joao Moutinho, Joao Mario; Bernardo Silva, Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Iran: Alireza Beiranvand; Ramin Rezaeian, Morteza Pouraliganji, Majid Hosseini, Milad Mohammadi; Saeid Ezatolahi, Mehdi Taremi, Omid Ebrahimi, Vahid Amiri; Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sardar Azmoun.

                 

Date: Monday, June 25

Time: 7 p.m. (BST), 2 p.m. (ET)

TV Info: BBC (UK), FOX (U.S.)

Live Stream: BBC iPlayer (UK), FOX Sports Go (U.S.)

              

Ronaldo on the Goal Trail

Here's a look at how Group B is shaping up on the cusp of this important fixture:

While there's no doubt that Portugal, the European champions, are a cohesive and quality team, they are geared towards one man making the difference. Fortunately for them, that man is Ronaldo, and he relishes the responsibility.

The Real Madrid man's nose for goals is what separated Portugal from Morocco in their previous game. Ronaldo poached a header in the early stages, and while the north African side were vibrant in response, they didn't have a cold-blooded goalscorer to cap off their attacks.

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated summed up the type of impact Ronaldo has had on the tournament:

No player in the history of European football has a better goalscoring record on the international stage than the Portugal captain:

It will be interesting to see how Iran approach the challenge of containing the four-goal man, especially given they need a victory.

Against Spain, they were impressive despite losing 1-0. They defended with great intensity when the scores were level and fell behind because of a stroke of misfortune. Then, when the onus was on them to attack, they did show something, spurning some fine chances and seeing a goal ruled out for offside after a video assistant referee review.

Iran were unfortunate in their clash with Spain.
Iran were unfortunate in their clash with Spain.Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

James Montague praised their performance and noted the added edge to this fixture, with former Portugal manager Carlos Queiroz in the Iran dugout for the match:   

Both of these teams are set up to be reactive in games. as a result, this one may be a tough watch.

Iran may go with the same ultra-defensive tactics that worked for a spell against Spain, and Portugal may feel obliged to push forward. But Santos' men are a canny and experienced bunch, meaning they are unlikely to leave too much space at the back.

A time will come in the game when Iran will have to push on. When that comes, you sense Portugal will punish them.

            

Prediction: Iran 0-1 Portugal

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