The Guardian – This article is part of the Guardian’s 2018 World Cup Experts’ Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organisations from the 32 countries who have qualified for Russia. theguardian.com is running previews from two countries each day in the run-up to the tournament kicking off on 14 June.
For the first time Iran will participate in two consecutive World Cups and, after a relatively acceptable performance at Brazil 2014, Team Melli are in search of a bigger dream in Russia.
“Iran have come on a lot,” said the coach, Carlos Queiroz, recently. “With the experience of Brazil 2014 under our belts and with several players having since moved to Europe, we’ve become more solid and competitive. We want to get through to the second round but that is obviously going to be a very difficult task.”
Four years ago Queiroz’s side played reactive football, based on a deep defensive line and quick counterattacks in a 4-2-3-1 formation but, to get to the knockout rounds, Iran need a more attacking style and have shown it in recent friendlies in a 4-1-4-1.