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The odds for Iran vs USA are supplied by the FanDuel Sportsbook, which is giving new customers a generous $1000 no-sweat first bet.
On the last day of a tournament’s group stage, it is often advisable for fans to hold a calculator in one hand and the phone number of a cardiologist in the other. On this occasion at least, fans of the USA will not need the calculator.
The scenario could not be simpler for Gregg Berhalter’s boys on Tuesday, which brings the conclusion of Group B at World Cup 2022. After draws with Wales and England, only a win will do for the USA. Anything less would bring an immediate end to their participation at this tournament.
In some ways that feels unfair. The USA have played four halves of soccer in Qatar and have performed well in three of them. They dominated the opening 45 minutes against Wales, before allowing their opponents back into the game after the break.
More impressive, though, was their display against England on Friday. Facing one of the leading contenders to win the World Cup with the best online sportsbooks, the USA defended with resolve and solidity and attacked with poise and purpose. They created the better chances and were unfortunate to not beat an England side that were made to look labored and one-paced by their opponents.
There has been much talk of World Cup 2022 being preparation for the next edition in four years’ time, which will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico. That is true to an extent, but none of the members of Berhalter’s squad will be thinking that far ahead.
Reaching the round of 16 at the current competition is the only thing the American players will have on their minds right now. After the failure to qualify for World Cup 2018, a knockout round berth would be a fine achievement.
After they were thrashed 6-2 by England in their opening encounter, Iran were widely written off as Group B whipping boys. How times have changed. Thanks to a bracing 2-0 victory of Wales last week, Team Melli are up to second in the standings with one round of fixtures remaining.
There is no getting away from the fact that Iran were poor against England, but it is fair to say that soccer has not been their sole focus in the last couple of weeks.
Ahead of kick-off on matchday one, the Iranian players showed their tacit support for protesters back home by refusing to sing the national anthem. It was a moment of collective solidarity that required immense bravery from a group of young men. It would only be natural for off-field events to have been a distraction in the build-up to the game.
Iran were much improved against Wales. They played incisive soccer on the counter-attack, taking advantage of the huge amount of space left to them in the center of the park. Iran defended with the type of organization and diligence that was conspicuous by its absence in the thumping by Wales.
Their two goals came deep into second-half stoppage time, by which stage Wales had been reduced to 10 men following a red card for Wayne Hennessey. But it was a fully deserved victory for Team Melli, who fashioned the better opportunities even before they finally broke the deadlock.
From the gloom of that 6-2 loss, Iran are now potentially one point away from booking their place in the round of 16 for the first time in the history of the national team. Provided Wales do not beat England, a draw would be enough for Carlos Queiroz’s side to extend their stay in Qatar.
Iran found the right balance between defense and attack against Wales, although their approach was no doubt influenced by the fact that they essentially needed to win. Team Melli will again start with two strikers in Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun on Tuesday, but Queiroz will ensure they are compact and disciplined without the ball.
That could be the best way to frustrate a USA side that, for all its good approach play, has not really created many clear-cut chances at this tournament. If Iran were to sit behind the ball and counter, they could frustrate Berhalter’s team.
With the stakes so high, we do not anticipate either Iran or the USA racing out of the blocks. The first half in particular will be tight and cagey, with Queiroz no doubt happy to settle for 0-0 at the interval. That would not be the worst scoreline for the USA either, as it would mean they were just a goal away from the last 16.
Our betting recommendation for Iran vs USA is under 0.5 goals in the opening 45 minutes.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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