Spain Seeking First Three Points, Iran Nurtures Group B Top Spot

A total of 15,000 Iranians have traveled to Kazan to support Team Melli.A total of 15,000 Iranians have traveled to Kazan to support Team Melli.

Ahead of the World Cup clash between Iran and Spain tonight in Kazan, Team Melli manager Carlos Queiroz mentioned that the top spot of the Group B table is “not for sale”.

“The top spot is neither for sale nor for rent,” said Queiroz. “Spain is a team of high quality, but we want to preserve our top-spot in the group.”

Iran is now atop Group B with three points followed by Portugal and Spain each with one point while Morocco sits at the bottom with no points.

Keeping the top spot seems to be tougher than expected when Iranian defender Roozbeh Cheshmi was hit by a muscular injury during training on Monday which put him out of action for one month.

Cheshmi with 192cm height made a lot of effort to keep the goal closed against Morocco on June 15.

The 24-year-old will stay with the squad in Russia but his injury means Queiroz will have to reshuffle his line-up for back-to-back matches against Iberian powers Spain and Portugal over the next six days.

Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh is among the options to partner Morteza Pouraliganji in central defense against 2010 world champion Spain at the Kazan Arena.

Iran enjoyed fan support at its first game against Morocco with over 62,000 spectators attending the game marking the most crowded game for Iran in the history of the country at World Cup.

The fan effect seemingly is going to happen again as Spain newspaper AS says 15,000 Iranians have traveled to Kazan to support Team Melli.

The national team players got a morale boost when Sports and Youth Minister Masoud Soltanifar attended their camp a day after their 1-0 victory over Morocco.

During the visit Queiroz praised his squad as the most humble players he has ever seen in his 35-years of coaching. “Players with the least of income and the most of loyalty to the country and teamwork.”

 Universe Cup Final

Before the clash against Morocco, Queiroz referred to the game as the “World Cup final” for Iran; overcoming the tough job, now he talks about “Universe Cup final”.

“If the game against Morocco was the World Cup final for us, the game against Spain will be the Universe Cup final,” said the former Real Madrid coach.

“We can create super stories and super things. Our attitude is to try and make the impossible possible,” he added.

 Crucial Clash

On the other side, Spaniards eye their first victory at the tournament after the 3-3 draw against Portugal on June 15.

Spanish playmaker Isco said Wednesday’s match against Iran will determine their World Cup destiny.

Champion in 2010 World Cup and among the favorite this year, Spain’s World Cup ambitions were kept in check, almost single-handedly, by a stunning Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.

The draw came just two days after Spain’s campaign was thrown into disarray by the shock sacking of coach, Julen Lopetegui following an untimely announcement by Real Madrid that he would join the 13-times European champion after the tournament. Fernando Hierro is at the helm now.

Coaching situation is better in Iran as Queiroz has coached the national team for the past seven years.

Isco believes that scoring in the first minutes will be the key to their victory over Iran.

“It’s a crucial match that will determine our World Cup destiny,” said Isco. “We want to score from the opening minute, even though that won’t be easy. We will stick to the style that defines us as a team, but we have to pass the ball around a lot more and maintain possession. If we play quickly across the pitch, the chances will come. I hope we score quickly.”

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