We wrap up Group F with the last but not least nation, Iran. After a shock defeat of South Korea in their qualifying campaign, Iran soon found themselves finishing first place in their group. While much of the outcome of Group F will depend on how much punishment Argentina intends to inflict, the runner's up spot is well and truly up for grabs. Assuming Argentina run the group, that leaves Iran, Bosnia, and Nigeria all with a very equal chance of advancing. Let's take a look at Iran's Group F matches:
June 16th - Nigeria
June 21st - Argentina
June 25th - Bosnia and Herzegovina
As you can see Iran have a very mixed schedule with their toughest game up coming against Argentina in the second match. I would much rather see Argentina first or last as they will undoubtedly be their strongest after playing a game and not looking to rotate yet. This leads me to believe Iran will have the toughest time advancing from the group with Bosnia looking to catch Argentina cold in the first match and Nigeria hoping Argentina will be rotating for the third. Let's take a look at Iran's World Cup roster:
Iran World Cup Squad:
Daniel Davari (Eintracht Braunschweig), Rahman Ahmadi (Sepahan Isfahan), Alireza Haqiqi
(Sporting da Covilha), Sosha Makani (Foolad), Ali Reza Biranvand (Naft Tehran)
Hossein Mahini (Persepolis), Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan Isfahan), Amir Hossein Sadeqi
(Esteghlal), Hashem Beykzadeh (Esteghlal), Khosrow Heidari (Esteghlal), Ahmad Alenemeh (Naft Tehran),
Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Zob Ahan Isfahan), Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal), Steven Beitashour
(Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Mehrdad Pouladi (Persepolis), Reza Haghighi (Persepolis), Andranik Teymourian (Esteghlal), Ghasem Hadadifar
(Zob Ahan Isfahan), Bakhtiar Rahmani (Foolad), Javad Nekounam (Kuwait SC), Ashkan Dejagah
(Fulham), Masoud Shojaei (UD Las Palmas)
Mohammad Reza Khalatbari (Persepolis), Mehdi Sharifi (Sepahan Isfahan), Karim Ansarifard (Tractor Sazi), Reza
Ghoochannejhad (Charlton Athletic), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC), Sardar Azmoun (FC Rubin
Kazan), Reza Norouzi (Naft Tehran)
This is a squad in which I know virtually no names, however one does stand out, Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah. Although he hasn't done much week in week out to warrent our invested fantasy interest during the EPL, he has come up with some pretty spectacular goals on occasion. I am not sure you want to invest any if at all in Iran's squad given Nigeria and Bosnia could just as easily take the runner's up spot, but let's take a look at their possible fantasy prospects:
Fantasy Players to Watch:
Ashkan Dejagah - Having previously played for the German national youth side before declaring for his native Iran, Dejagah will be vital in building Iran's attack. Dejagah has pace on the wings and a wicked shot, when cutting in from the right, off his left foot. I am not sure to take the risk of picking him outright, but he remains a consideration for your bench.
Ehsan Hajsafi - Prefers the left back slot, but can play centrally in midfield if needed. Ehsan is one of the most capped Iranian players with the national side with 57 at only age 24. If he plays in central midfield when listed as a defender, we could have our first out of position bonus player on our hands. It is going to be very hard to trust Iran in their opening match however, so even if Ehsan plays further forward than his listed designation, you may still want to take the safe route in this instance.
Reza Ghoochannejhad - The Charlton Athletic striker will have to be at his best if Iran hope to advance in the much coveted runner's up spot. If Reza can get the service required, then this pick has dark horse written all over. The biggest question is, do you take the chance given how important the striker position is to your team?
Well that finishes Group F! For the record I'd like to predict Argentina taking the group with Dzeko's Bosnia and Herzegovina taking the runner's up spot. Although part of me hopes Nigeria can make a solid run at the group phase, I feel Bosnia has the best squad depth and available talent in their starting 11 to navigate out of Group F at the expense of Nigeria and Iran. But who knows, the World Cup always throws us a few surprises!