Iran: Carlos Queiroz
Like Morocco, Iran certainly won’t be favored to make it out to the knockout rounds. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them come out of the group with three points or less.
So how are Iran going to beat the likes of Germany, Brazil and Belgium to win the World Cup? Well, they have one of the best national team managers in the world.
Iran breezed through their World Cup qualifying matches. In the second round of the AFC qualifiers, Team Melli won six and drew twice, scoring 23 goals and only letting in three. They went undefeated in the third round as well, winning six and drawing four, only giving up two goals in 10 matches.
Iran’s defense has been their calling card in the qualifiers, but they also boast quite a few goalscorers from all over the pitch. Seven players likely to be called up to the World Cup squad have over five goals or more for their country, including four forwards. Winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh has been one the Eredivisie’s best players this season, scoring 13 and assisting nine others in 27 matches thus far. His play has attracted the likes of Napoli, and a trio of Premier League teams reportedly vied for his services last summer.
Forward Sardar Azmoun has played and scored in the Champions League, and has 22 goals in only 30 appearances for the national team.
Queiroz knows how to use this talent to his advantage, and has experience at big clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid that can only help in the biggest competition in the world. It’ll be a hard road out of the group stage, but Iran are probably Asia’s best shot for success this year.