Spain start with De Gea against Iran in Kazan

Annette Crawford
June 20, 2018

However, rising above adversity has been a theme for Iran during qualification and the build-up to this tournament.

Iran have never beaten a European side at a World Cup - their only previous victory was a 2-1 win over the United States in France in 1998.

"Everybody knows that Spain is one of the greatest teams in football history, and one thing that we can guarantee is that the Spanish team will not have an easy time against us", he told reporters. Cautious optimism will be the order of the day, and Iran boss Carlos Queros side will be looking for a similarly defensively strong performance against one of the favourites for the World Cup.

"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.

"It was not a miracle that we won".

"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".

Youngster Majid Hosseini seems to have good chances, considering he came on as late substitute versus Morocco, but considering the 21-year-old only has to caps to his tally so far and only broke into Esteghlal Tehran's starting lineup this year, Queiroz might opt for the much more experienced Pejman Montazeri.

Queiroz added: "I have to say, if there was a magic potion to stop Spain that we could buy for a million dollars we would buy it. Our attitude is to try and make the impossible possible".

But Hierro, like Iniesta, has no intention of being the man who steered Spain to an unthinkable World Cup disaster.

Hierro, who scored 29 goals in an 89-cap career with Spain, was promoted from his role as sporting director in time for their crunch opener with Portugal.

"When you play in a World Cup you can come up against footballers like Cristiano [Ronaldo] who can score three against you", he said.

Iran could become the first Asian team to win consecutive World Cup matches since South Korea in June 2002.

Iran kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win against Morocco, thanks to a late own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz, piling the pressure on Spain at Kazan Arena on Wednesday. The striker has seen himself being painted as the villain in the last two editions of the World Cup. The 2010 champions head into the second match at Kazan Arena eager for a win under new coach Fernando Hierro, having been held to a 3-3 draw by Iberian rivals Portugal.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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