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Last World Cup: Did not qualify
Nickname: Lions/Team Melli
Coach: Carlos Queiroz
Star man: Javad Nekounam
Tournament best: Group stage 1978, 1998, 2006

Topped their qualification pool ahead of South Korea and although the side contains players like Nekounam with European pedigree, it is difficult to see them progressing beyond the groups.

Strengths: The Iranians relied more heavily on set pieces for goals than any other side heading for Brazil, with 40% of their goals being created from dead ball situations. The Iranians also managed not to concede a single long range goal during qualifying, one of only four teams to achieve this.

Weaknesses: Whatever makes Iran such an attacking threat from set pieces doesn't translate to defending them, with no team conceding a greater share of goals in this way than their 57%. The same share of goals were conceded from close range, again the largest share of the 32 qualifying nations, which could prove costly in Brazil.

Prospects: Their preference for attacking from wide positions gives them a potential means of unsettling Argentina, who are much more comfortable in the centre, although both they and Bosnia will be tough to resist over 90 minutes. Nigeria's love of long shots will test Iran's defensive resilience, with the Nigerians' own back line seemingly well-configured to neutralise the right-sided and set piece attacks Iran favour.

 

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