giovedì 5 giugno 2014

Iran preview

Iran are going to participate at their fourth World Cup finals with Brazil 2014 following Argentina 1978, France 1998 and Germany 2006. However, they failed to progress from the group stage in all of their three previous appearances. Iran’s approach to the tournament has been not easy: the national federation was plagued by financial issues and it drastically reduced the number of friendly games against top level teams Team Melli played.  It left them playing against sides such as Mozambique and Belarus with doubts about they provided adequate practice heading to Brazil. Some training camps also were cancelled while European-based players joined them late due to club duties. In Carlos Queiroz they have an International and veteran head coach in charge, with the goal set to reach the knockout stages. Former Real Madrid boss produced not surprise picking his final 23-man roster with the only real shock being the omission of forward Mohammadreza Khalatbari. Other notable absences are those involving midfielders Ali Karimi, a former Bayern Munich player, and Payam Sadeghian. Queiroz is a defensive-minded coach and showed it since he took over the job in 2011. The Portuguese manager often switched team’s shape, switching from the 4-1-4-1 to a 4-2-3-1, or 4-3-3 according to the situations. But the main focus remained the same, that is build a compact team without possession, and it should not much change against superior teams as Argentina, Nigeria and Bosnia. About the starting XI, they have not a clear number one goalkeeper in place as Rahman Ahmadi and Daniel Davari are battling for the starting spot and it’s never a good thing when you haven’t a sure pick between the posts approaching a high level tournament as the World Cup is. A third option, the highly touted Mehdi Rahmati was left at home following a decision made by Queiroz based on the clashes the goalkeeper had with the head coach. Davari should have the edge as he played this term with relegated Bundesliga side of Eintracht Braunschweig. A key role into Team Melli will be played by captain Javad Nekounam and Andranik Teymourian, the two holding midfielders, which will have the duty to cover the spaces in front of the defence that includes only three centre-backs for his two starting central spots. Jalal Hosseni and Amir Hossein Sadeqi should start over there. Up front, many of Iran’s hopes to get out of the group are based on Dutch- Iranian Reza Ghoochannejhad as Charlton Athletic’s forward is Team Melli’s main threat. Back in January, former Standard Liège joined League One side continuing to show pace and flashes of his goal-scoring skills. Should “Gucci” emerge and should he be supported by Ashkan Dejagah and Alireza Jahanbakhsh in Iran counter-attacking, Queiroz could have a chance to keep the promise to improve team’s fortunes in the World Cup finals.

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