By Morteza Mohases

Group B, the moment of truth

April 18, 2022 - 16:48

TEHRAN - Iran have been drawn in Group B of the 2022 FIFA World Cup along with England, the U.S., and the European playoff winners (Wales, Ukraine, Scotland). Dragan Skocic's men will be confident of reaching the knockout phase this time.

Iran are 21st in the FIFA ranking and finished ahead of South Korea in the qualification matches for the World Cup. The team broke new ground, having qualified for the third time in a row. Iran have only missed two tournaments since 1998, and there was never any real doubt that it would qualify for its third consecutive finals.

Dragan Skocic's side only dropped points to South Korea in the final qualifying round, and it had secured their place in Qatar by the end of January.

The ‘Persian Leopards’ will play England in their first match. In reality, starting is always the most challenging part of any task. Playing against a very balanced England side, Dragan Skocic has a Herculean task ahead of him. Throughout FIFA qualifications, he adopted a flexible 1-4-1-4-1 turn into 1-4-3-3, and against South Korea tested 1-4-4-2 formation, with Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi as the two front strikers. They were supported by the two midfield screeners, Ahmad Nourolahi and Saeid Ezatolahei. Iran adopted two and sometimes three formations in one match with some degree of success

Against South Korean and Iraqi sides, they tended to play a more defensive-oriented shape, with an aggressive and organized defense, very compact and looked for a counter-attack.

More demanding challenges lie ahead for Skocic's team and his trusted style of play; in modern football, team strategy has often been appropriately called “Style of Play”. Many countries adhere to one style of play. The majority of Iranian football fans prefer the style of play that challenges other teams and puts them under pressure. They enjoyed watching the ball-possession-based style of play and offensive mentality. The three World Cup matches might give us a slightly better idea of what Skocic has done with our National Team during the past two years.

 The three teams that Iran will face in Group B represent highly contrasting play styles.

Football style of play isn't a fixed thing either, and countries change their style in subtle ways over the years, depending on the coach's level of competition and philosophy.

Skocic, whose tactical decisions on these occasions have so often been put under the microscope, emphasis on team cohesion and precision reflects those characteristics which are paramount in Iranian culture. He has been living in Iran for many years and knows typical Iranian player possess creativity and improvisation and is highly coachable.

Tactically, Iran play with mobility in attack and tactical discipline in defense,

Iran have been in fine form since the last World Cup and still have their stars from the previous World Cup in Russia. Mehdi Taremi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sardar Azmoun, and goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand will definitely help the country book a place in the next round.

To make things better, stars like Vahid Amiri and Ehsan Haji Safi are back in the mix, along with young talents making for a winning line-up.

Skocic's men will be confident of reaching the knockout phase this time, despite being drawn against England, the U.S., and one of Wales, Scotland, or Ukraine in FIFA World Cup 2022 Group B.

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