The Washington Post– Iran and Portugal meet for the third time with plenty at stake for both sides. Team Melli, which earned its second World Cup win in its group stage opener against Morocco, likely needs another win against Portugal to advance to the knockout round. Meanwhile, Portugal, which tied Spain on the strength of a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick and held on for a 1-0 win over Morocco last Wednesday, is through with at least a draw. Portugal is 2-0 all-time against Iran, including a 2-0 win in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup.
Iran (1-0-1, 3 points)
- Previous results: Defeated Morocco, 1-0; lost to Spain, 1-0.
- What’s at stake: Iran almost certainly needs a win to advance to the knockout round. If Team Melli earns a draw against Portugal, it would likely need Spain to lose by at least two goals to Morocco, a result that would qualify as one of the biggest surprises of this year’s World Cup. A one-goal Spanish loss could also be enough, coupled with a high-scoring Iran-Portugal draw.
- Notable: Iran has never advanced to the knockout round.
- FIFA world ranking: 37. ELO world ranking: 20.
Portugal (1-1-0, 4 points)
- Previous results: Tied Spain, 3-3; defeated Morocco, 1-0.
- What’s at stake: Portugal is tied atop the Group B standings with Spain, which faces Morocco in Kaliningrad on Monday. Portugal will advance to the knockout round with a win or draw against Iran. The winner of Group B could well be decided by goal differential.
- Notable: Portugal is looking to advance to the knockout round for the third time in the last four World Cups after being eliminated in the group stage in 2014.
- FIFA world ranking: 4. ELO world ranking: 5.
Players to watch
Cristiano Ronaldo has four goals in two games, putting him in the conversation for the Golden Boot. His goal four minutes into Portugal’s 1-0 win over Morocco was his 85th on the international stage, moving him ahead of Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas as the greatest European goal scorer of all-time. Incidentally, the only man ahead of Ronaldo on the international goal-scoring list is Iranian legend Ali Daei, who scored 109 goals in 149 games. Iran’s hopes of advancing will depend in part on the play of goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, who shut out Morocco and allowed only a fluky goal to Spain’s Diego Costa in a 1-0 loss last week.