Welcome to another DFO World Cup preview. Today we’ll be looking at the Iranian team. They are known as “Team Melli,” which means “The National Team.” They’ve also been called the Persian Stars, Shiran e Iran (the Iranian Lions), the Cheetahs (due to conservation efforts), or the Princes of Persia.
Would you would know anyone on their roster? Probably not. Nobody from the roster plays in one of the major European leagues, though a couple players play for Olympiacos of Greece, one plays for AEK Athens, and one plays for Nottingham Forest—that would be midfielder and captain Ashkan Dejagah.
But famous names are unnecessary. Iran is currently a powerhouse of Asian soccer, attempting to restore their former (pre-Revolution and pre Iraq–Iran War) glory. They won three consecutive Asian Cups in 1968, ’72, and ’76, and now, over 40 years later, would have to be considered a favorite in 2019 in the United Arab Emirates. They are currently ranked 36th in the world according to FIFA, which the highest of any Asian Football Confederation teams (Australia is second, ranked 40th… yes, I know Australia is not a part of Asia, don’t ask me); and they are ranked 21st in the World Football Elo Rankings, which apparently exist. It was Iran that won their group in AFC World Cup qualification. And out of the two group winners it was Iran with more points throughout their group, with 22 to Group B’s Japan’s 20, winning 6 of their 10 matches without losing a single one, and only giving up 2 goals throughout, drawing 2–2 with Syria in their last match while already being assured of a trip to Russia. So it’s safe to say they’re also pretty solid defensively.
As for the world stage, they’ve never advanced past the group stage, and their World Cup win was in 1998 over (who else) the United States. This go-around, they’ll have difficulties, being in Group B with Morocco and the entire Iberian Peninsula, because someone clearly thought having Spain and Portugal in the same group would be a good idea. Their best chance to get that second-ever win will definitely be their first game against Morocco in St. Petersburg on June 15th, before they take on Spain on the 20th and Portugal on the 25th. My guess, and probably most people’s, is that the two Iberian teams come out of the group, which would be a pretty damn good guess since they’re both top-10 teams, so anyone else would be an upset. But perhaps the Iranians can get that second-ever win and maybe steal a point from one (or both?) of the other matches with that stingy defense, and in that case, and in that case with four points maybe they get to the round of 16? Maybe even the quarters if they can get past, um, Uruguay I’d guess? That’s definitely a shocking best-case, but stranger things have happened in sports the last few years…
[DOOR FLIES OPEN]
The Iron Sheik: YOU SAY IRAN BEST CASE QUARTERFINALS? I CALL YOU A PUNK!
GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU FUCKING JABRONI!
YOU SAY THE IRAN TEAM NOT MADE OF PLAYERS COMPETING IN EUROPE? THEY FROM AND PLAY IN IRAN BUBBA, THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH. YOU SAY THE CRISTIANO RONALDO AND THE DIEGO COSTA FIND WAYS TO SCORE AGAINST THE IRANIAN DEFENSE? THE IRAN TEAM WOULDN’T GIVE UP SIX GOALS TO COSTA RICA IN TWO MATCHES OR LOSE A MUST-WIN TO TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. IRAN TEAM, THEY ALL THE LEGEND IRON SHEIK CLASS! USA TEAM, HACK-TOO!
FUCK THE JABRONI RONALDO MCDONALDO. I BREAK HIS BACK AND MAKE HIM HUMBLE. THE LIONEL MESSI TOO.
AS FOR MY WORLD CUP PREDICTION, BUBBA?
IRAN VS. RUSSIA. I WATCH WITH MY BROTHER THE LEGEND NIKOLAI VOLKOFF. GOD BLESS HIM.
AND THE NEXT TIME YOU SPEAK ABOUT IRAN, I PUT YOU IN CAMEL CLUTCH. GO FUCK YOURSELF, RAISIN BALLS.
[DOOR SLAMS SHUT]
…Is… is he gone? I’m gonna get my ass handed to me about now, right? Help? Anyone? Please?
June 15th vs. Morocco, 11:00 Eastern (18:00 local), St. Petersburg
June 20th vs. Spain, 14:00 Eastern (21:00 local), Kazan
June 25th vs. Portugal, 14:00 Eastern (21:00 local), Saransk
Banner image from Wikipedia–it’s the skyline in Tehran, the capital.