March 25, 2023
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530 views – VIENNA, Both looking to ramp up their preparations for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, Iran and Uruguay will do battle in an International Friendly in Austria on Friday.

The two nations each did enough to progress to the global competition without going through an Inter-Confederation playoff and will aim to build further momentum ahead of the beginning of the group stage in two months.

Iran will come into the latest round of International Friendlies on a high, having booked their place in a third consecutive World Cup tournament thanks to an impressive run in Asian qualifying.

They began with a relatively dominant second-round display, topping their group with 18 points from eight outings to progress to a third-round group with the aim of automatic progression to the upcoming tournament with a top-two finish.

Even despite facing tougher competition from the likes of South Korea, United Arab Emirates and Iraq, Team Melli excelled and topped the group scoring eight wins and 25 points from their 10 outings, with a draw and a defeat in their two fixtures with South Korea being the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect record.

That performance came under the management of Dragan Skokic, but Iran now enter a new era with Carlos Queiroz appointed for the World Cup following his exit, and he will take charge of his first game as the national team boss on Friday.

They will now aim to make a winning start under the new manager to build confidence in the camp before taking on Senegal next week.

Uruguay make the trip aiming to continue their unbeaten run under the management of Diego Alonso, who replaced Oscar Tabarez in November after 15 years at the helm, with La Celeste in danger of missing out on World Cup qualification at the time.

With just four games left in the South American group, they sat on 16 points, but the new boss’s appointment had an instant impact as they strengthened their claim with back-to-back wins over Paraguay and Venezuela after the turn of the year.

Their improved run would continue as Uruguay booked their place in the group stage by making it four in a row to end qualifying, beating Peru and Chile 1-0 and 2-0 respectively in the final two fixtures, with Giorgian De Arrascaeta hitting the decisive goal in the former and Luis Suarez and Federico Valverde getting on the scoresheet in the final 15 minutes of the latter.

On the back of that impressive turnaround, La Celeste were most recently in action in a run of friendlies in June, and they continued an unbeaten start to their new era, beating Mexico and Panama 3-0 and 5-0 respectively either side of a goalless stalemate with the USA.

Having now won six of their seven games in the new year, Alonso’s side will be full of newly-found confidence and will aim to continue an undefeated run going into the beginning of the tournament in November.


Iran form (all competitions): WWWLWL

Uruguay form (all competitions): WWWWDW

Team News:

Both sides will likely field full-strength starting XIs from the squads they have called up with the aim of establishing their best setup for the World Cup, and Iran have plenty of goal threat in their ranks with the likes of Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun fighting to lead the line, having hit 27 and 40 international goals respectively.

Feyenoord winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh is another danger man and will likely operate from the left-hand side from the outset, while Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos will look to provide further quality going forward from a midfield role.

Uruguay have been unable to call on veteran striker Edinson Cavani, who only recently returned to fitness for Valencia, but they do still have all-time top scorer Luis Suarez and new Liverpool man Darwin Nunez to lead the line.

Federico Valverde is another threat going forward, having enjoyed an impressive start to the La Liga campaign with Real Madrid, with three goals and an assist in their six consecutive league victories, while Tottenham Hotspur star Rodrigo Bentancur will play an important role in midfield, likely alongside either Manuel Ugarte or Lucas Torreira.

Experienced defenders Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez and Sebastian Coates are all absent from this squad, meaning Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo will be relied on heavily at the back alongside the likes of Martin Caceres and Matias Vina.

Iran possible starting lineup:
Beiranvand; Moharrami, Kanaanizadegan, Hosseini, Hajsafi; Ezatolahi; Azmoun, Ghoddos, Nourollahi, Jahanbakhsh; Taremi

Uruguay possible starting lineup:
Muslera; D Suarez, Araujo, Caceres, Vina; Bentancur, Ugarte; De Arrascaeta, Valverde; L Suarez, Nunez

We say: Iran 1-2 Uruguay

Both sides will be full of confidence and looking to build momentum with plenty of star men on show, and we see La Celeste’s squad as slightly stronger all round and back them to triumph and continue an unbeaten run under the refreshing new management of Alonso.

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