Portugal will be looking to better Spain’s result against Morocco when they take on Iran, who can still qualify themselves, on Monday evening (7pm UK time)
Going in to the match, Spain and Portugal are on identical records meaning Portugal need to better Spain’s result to win the group. However, Portugal may still not make the round of 16 at all if they lose to Iran who can still qualify themselves, but only with a win.
Iran will no doubt be playing ultra defensive from the start, just like they did against Spain. But with only a win good enough to see them go through the hope will be to keep it 0-0 to the final 15 minutes before pouring everyone forward looking for that decisive goal which would see them qualify against all odds.
As for Portugal, making the breakthrough early will be important. If they can score early, Iran will have to come out of their shell and attack much earlier than they’d like to, giving Portugal more space and chances to rack up a few goals which could be decisive in finishing above Spain.
Iran defender Eshan Hajsafi, may be sidelined after picking up a thigh injury during their 1-0 defeat to Spain. If Hajsafi is out, Akhmat Grozny’s will most likely be his replacement who plays his club football in Russia.
For Portugal, Joao Moutinho may be absent after missing several days of training through illness. As well as this Raphael Guerreiro may also not start. He recovered from a minor leg injury but struggled against Morocco and as a result will probably be replaced.
Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to lead the Portuguese attack once more, with the Real Madrid forward having scored in both of his country’s previous games.
I can see this starting off as a very similar match to Iran v Spain, where Iran frustrate Portugal but eventually the European Champions, find a breakthrough. Then with Iran needing to go for it late on Portugal add another, but that still may not be enough to win the group…
Prediction: Iran 0-2 Portugal