By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 15th June 2018
Morocco’s World Cup Group B opener against Iran may have been unfairly typecast as a 0-0 in waiting, due to the fixture representing two sides with strong rearguards’ best chance of a victory in the section.
However, while both nations’ superb defensive records in qualifying point towards a war of attrition, Team Melli coach and former Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz’s admission that “we [Iran] needed more preparation” is a worrying admission.
Will cancelled friendlies against Greece and Kosovo in the build up to the tournament come back to haunt the Iranians?
Read on for our selections in the Morocco v Iran match betting, correct score and first goalscorer markets, as well as a left-field selection even we’re surprised you can bet on.
Saudi Arabia’s dire showing against Russia yesterday could be the first hint that qualifying out of the AFC is no rubber stamp of a team’s competitiveness.
Iran may only have conceded twice in their last qualifying group, but 0-0’s against the likes of China and Syria are no guarantee of a side’s defensive probity.
Morocco didn’t concede at all in their qualifying group, despite playing a side of the calibre of Ivory Coast twice and their team boasts the last two Eredivisie players of the year in Karim El Ahmadi and Hakim Ziyech.
A 2-1 away win in Serbia stands out among their recent friendly resume, suggesting they should have the quality to get past opponents, who are, by their own manager’s admission, underseasoned.
When the Atlas Lions find the net they don’t stop at one. They’ve bagged in 13 of their last 15 internationals and at least twice in each of that baker’s dozen.
Ayoub Al Kaabi is 5/1 joint favourite in this market doubtless due to his record of 11 goals in nine internationals for the Atlas Lions, but all bar two of those were score in the African Nations Championship, a continental tournament solely for players who play in African leagues.
At a point bigger, the aforementioned Ziyech (nine goals in 18 for Morocco) looks a nice wager, not least because he takes the penalties for Herve Renard’s men.
Leftfield selection – Alireza Jahanbakhsh to have at least one shot on target @ 11/10
Another Eredivisie star, Jehanbaksh finished top scorer in the Dutch top flight last term, averaging 4.3 shots per game. Such an appetite for attempts should see him trouble Yassine Bounou in the Moroccan goal at least once.