6’: Iran Breaks Out
Iran with a good break forward and they eventually earn a free kick near the corner flag, but Spain heads away out of danger.
3’: Bus Parked? Bus Parked.
We’re just a few minutes in, and Iran already has 10 men behind the ball as Spain passes it around among themselves. It might be a long night for the Iranian defense.
01’: We Are Underway!
Spain is in white, Iran is in red.
Spain’s Been Here Before
Spain didn’t lose a match in qualifying, scoring 36 goals and giving up just 3, only a 1-1 draw at Italy preventing them from winning all 10 games. Then again, La Furia Roja also didn’t lose in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, yet were handily bounced in the group stage.
Spain’s Starting Lineup
Two changes for Spain from the team that drew Portugal. Dani Carvajal replaces Nacho in defense, and Lucas Vazquez replaces Koke in the attack.
1. David De Gea
15. Sergio Ramos
3. Gerard Pique
18. Jordi Alba
2. Dani Carvajal
6. Andres Iniesta
5. Sergio Busquets
19. Diego Costa
21. David Silva
11. Lucas Vazquez
From Rory Smith: The old guard of Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets will be crucial, but success will depend on the creative spark of the likes of Isco, Marco Asensio and Saúl Ñíguez.
Iran’s Starting Lineup
1. Alireza Beiranvand
8. Morteza Pouraliganji
19. Majid Hosseini
9. Omid Ebrahimi
3. Ehsan Hajsafi
23. Ramin Rezaeian
11. Vahid Amiri
6. Saeid Ezatolahi
10. Karim Ansarifard
17. Mehdi Taremi
20. Sardar Azmoun
Spain vs. Iran Top Story Lines
• Spain played a thrilling match against Portugal in its opener, and only a Ronaldo hat trick prevented the victory. The game ended 3-3.
• Iran defeated Morocco in its opener, 1-0, thanks to a 95th minute own goal.
• This is the first time Iran and Spain have ever faced each other.
• David de Gea, perhaps the best goalkeeper in the world, surprisingly fumbled a relatively easy to save shot from Ronaldo into the back of his own net.
• Iran’s best player is probably Sardar Azmoun, a 23-year-old striker who plays for Russia’s Rubin Kazan. Given that this match is taking place in the Kazan Arena, Azmoun is playing at home.
• It has been like this for a decade now, but the quality of Spain’s squad is still stunning. Players like Marco Asensio, Cesar Azpilicueta and Dani Carvajal didn’t make it off the bench against Portugal, and Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso, Hector Bellerin and Javi Martinez didn’t even make the roster.
Some Pregame Reading
• Spain shockingly fired their manager just days before their match.
• Women aren’t allowed to attend men’s soccer matches in Iran, so one female activist traveled to Russia to watch the national team.
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