Tehran derby: An opportunity to rise for giants

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Tehran Times – TEHRAN, Saturday’s Iran Professional League (IPL) matchday includes Tehran derby at Azadi Stadium, with giants Esteghlal and Persepolis doing battle.

Iranian football’s great competitive rivals go head to head as both teams try to climb in the table as the Blues and the Reds now sit just three and two points behind the leaders Sepahan with 16 points in the table.

Esteghlal, as the hosts, are looking to end Persepolis’ five-year domestic dominance.

Farhad Majidi’s side faltered in recent weeks despite a strong start to the season. They had three consecutive wins at the first three weeks of the 2021/22 season. However, the Blues were far from their best in the next four games, with just four draws and two goals in four games.

Esteghlal head into the derby just a single point behind Persepolis and three behind Sepahan, with a win taking them above Persepolis and even to top spot if everything goes in favor of them this week.

Meanwhile, Persepolis have been performing far from their usual exceptional standards that they have set themselves.

A shock 1-0 defeat at Arak against Aluminium was followed by two draws that caused Yahya Golmohammadi’s side to lose seven points in a row.

However, in recent weeks, two narrow home victories against Sanat Naft and Naft Masjed Soleiman and the shaky form of title race rivals allowed Persepolis to go toe-to-toe with the title chasers.

In both recent victories, better to say in all the games of this season, Persepolis have lacked a clinical edge in the final third, a weakness that Esteghlal have also shown so far.

But, the two Tehran giants are well aware of the almost meaningless nature of form heading into this clash.

There have been many examples of this, in which the team who approached the Tehran derby with a seemingly advantageous position compared to their rival before the game failed to get the result and lost the match at the head-to-head encounter.

The Iranian giants have played each other 96 times with Esteghlal narrowly lead the encounters by 26 wins to 25 with 45 draws.

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