Who? Iran - Spain
Where? Kazan Arena, Kazan
When? June 20, 20:00 (CET local time)
Iran (Uri Levy)
Who would have believed that after the first match day in Group B, Iran will be topping the table, watching Spain & Portugal from above. In general, Argentina, Brazil, Germany have also lost points and suddenly Team Melli are feeling confident they can surprise the world and advance to the knockouts.
With all the excitement, the Iranians have to be careful as they travel to Kazan to play Spain, who arrives after a dramatic game where they lost two important points. In this position, Iran has an important advantage, as veteran fox Carlos Quieroz is much more experienced than Hierro, and for sure will try to impose his famous tactics & mind games, as he did to Morocco’s coach Herve Renard in the first game.
In other Team Melli Squad news, defender Rouzbeh Cheshmi got injured in Monday’s practice and unfortunately will miss the rest of the World Cup. The Iranian fans present in masses in Russia, so expect a great atmosphere in the stadium, and a massive support for the team who got its 2nd ever World Cup victory just few days back.
Spain (Yossi Medina)
Even though the game ended with a draw, Spain can be satisfied with the result they achieved against Portugal. The coaching controversy is part of the past and Hierro's debut gave a lot of optimism before the next match.
Diego Costa's brace against Portugal gave him a chance to be a contender for this tournaments top scorer. In some way, it's the chance of Costa to show what he failed to do four years ago, when Spain failed to impress and eliminated after the group stage.
One player will mark an important milestone. If Gerard Piqué will play, he will make his 100 international cap, being the 13th Spanish player to reach this number of caps. Piqué is maybe one of the most controversial players in the Spanish team. He is well recognized as a Catalonian independence supporter. Yet, he is still part of the Spanish team and wants to be part of any further success, as he did in the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
As Spain is aiming for their second World Cup title, they must finish in the first place in order to have better draw for the next stages. Winning tonight is a must for La Roja, especially after failing to defeat Portugal and the fact that they missed an option to get an advantage over the European champions.