Team Melli have actually been at the World Cup on three of the past four occasions, excluding 2022, but have only managed one win, finishing bottom of their group twice.
The past two World Cups came under Carlos Queiroz’s stewardship but the former Manchester United assistant left in 2019 and was replaced by Marc Wilmots. But the former Belgium manager had Iran in a bad place and in danger of not qualifying for the World Cup until Dragan Skocic came in, steadied the ship, and saved their dreams.
So can they make it to the knockout stages?
Iran to win 2022 World Cup odds
You can find Iran at 500/1 to win the tournament this winter.
Of course Iran aren’t going to be favoured to win the World Cup, given the stature of teams at the tournament and how many others are favoured on knowledge alone.
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Iran were one of the top seeds for the second round of AFC qualifying for the World Cup and were placed in a group alongside Arab rivals Iraq and Bahrain as well as Hong Kong and Cambodia. Things were extremely close at the top of Group C and two defeats to Iraq and Bahrain could have derailed Iran’s campaign. However, they managed to win their six other games to finish one point clear at the top of the group, three points clear of third-placed Bahrain who missed out.
The third round was much better and Iran only dropped four points from their 10 games to top Group A, two points clear of second-placed South Korea with both sides qualifying for the World Cup.
Iran’s potential path to 2022 World Cup final
Placed quite highly at 21st in the world at the time of the draw, Iran were put in Pot 3 for the World Cup group stage and had to wait a while to see their name pulled.
But when it was, a tough group was handed to Iran, alongside England and USA – with the winner of the European play-off (Wales) completing the foursome.
Iran kick off their World Cup group stage on the opening day of the tournament against England, before games against Wales and then USA. The games will be split between Al Rayyan and Doha.
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Iran 2022 World Cup group stage fixtures
21 November 2022: England vs Iran (1pm UK time)
25 November 2022: Wales vs Iran (10am UK time)
29 November 2022: Iran vs USA (7pm UK time)
If Iran win Group B
If Iran were to win Group B, this would be their route through to the final, with no complications as only the top two sides go through.
Last 16: The runners-up of Group A, which consists of Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands, in Al Khor on 4th December.
Quarter-finals: The winner of Match 52 , which is played between the winner of Group D (France, Denmark, Tunisia and Australia) and the Group C runners-up (Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland)
Semi-finals: The winner of Match 60 which will include one of the Group F or Group H winners, or runners-up from Group E or G. Involved in these groups are the likes of Spain, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Cameroon, Portugal and Uruguay.
If Iran qualify from Group B
If Iran finish second in Group B, they will go to the other side of the bracket.
Last 16: The winners of Group A in Al Rayyan on 3rd December.
Quarter-finals: The winner of Match 50, played between Group C winners and Group D runners-up.
Semi-finals: The winner of Match 58, which could include the Group E or G winners, or runners-up from Group F or H.
As mentioned, Iran have bowed out of the group stage in each of their five previous appearances at the World Cup, starting with their debut in 1978. Back then, there were two group stages so Iran’s appearance came in the first round, but they bowed out bottom below Peru, Netherlands and Scotland.
They had to wait 20 years for their next appearance, and first World Cup win, beating USA in France but still finishing third in their group. The next three appearances brought just one more win across nine games, beating Morocco in Russia.
Iran’s previous World Cup finishes
Iran Golden Boot odds
Mehdi Taremi is the main star of the Iranian attack in terms of known goalscorers, and the Porto striker is Iran’s favourite to finish as Golden Boot winner, with odds of 250/1 with Paddy Power.
The 29-year-old starred for Porto last season as they won the Primeira Liga title, netting 20 goals across the campaign with only Darwin Nunez managing more. He has also stepped up in recent appearances for Iran, scoring in four of his past six appearances which all came in qualifying for the World Cup.