2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Arena Fonte Nova – Salvador, Brazil
Bosnia-Herzegovina +120, Iran +220, Tie +240
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over +105, Under -135)
Underdog Iran needs a big win over Bosnia-Herzegovina and some help on Wednesday to move onto the Round of 16.
Iran has played a mostly defensive World Cup, opening their tournament with a 0-0 tie with Nigeria before losing 1-0 to Argentina on an extra-time goal by superstar Lionel Messi. With only one point and a minus-1 goal differential, Iran has to win to stay alive and then hope Nigeria loses to Argentina by more than one goal. If Iran and Nigeria wind up being tied in points and goal differential, the team moving on to the next round would be determined by drawing lots, which is something the World Cup has never had to do to break a tie between two teams. Bosnia-Herzegovina has lost both of its matches in its first-ever World Cup to eliminate themselves, falling 2-1 to Argentina and 1-0 to Nigeria. But they want to leave the tournament on a high note, and are favored to knock off Iran and send them home too.
Bosnia-Herzegovina has had plenty of chances in the World Cup, with 18 total shots (10 on goal) versus Nigeria to give them 34 shots (21 on goal) for the tournament. They also held a 54% possession edge and committed only seven fouls in the heart-breaking defeat to Nigeria, which got its lone tally in the 29th minute. Bosnia-Herzegovina defender Haris Medunjanin picked up a yellow card in the sixth minute of that match, but that was the team's only card in that defeat. Forward Edin Dzeko has missed plenty of scoring chances during this tournament, but his disallowed goal against Nigeria that was incorrectly ruled offsides could have been a huge difference maker for his team, and would've given them a chance at advancing with a victory in Wednesday's match. Dzeko may not play in the tournament finale for Bosnia-Herzegovina, as coach Safet Susic is expected to utilize his reserves more to give the team a spark.
Iran has been thoroughly dominated in time of possession in both World Cup matches, holding the ball for 37% of the time versus Nigeria and only 30% of the time versus Argentina. They have taken just 15 shots in the two matches combined, and only seven of those attempts have been on goal. With a win being the only desirable result on Wednesday, look for Iran to really set the tone on offense and abandon it's strictly defensive game plan. Carlos Queiroz knows this could be his last match as the team's coach, as he is stepping down after the tournament because the Iranian government is not giving him proper financial backing. Iran has been whistled for only two offsides all tournament, but have committed 32 fouls, including three yellow cards by midfielders Andranik Timotian, Javad Nekonam and Masoud Shojaei. Winning the match is obviously Iran's top priority, but it cannot afford to have any of these three players pick up that second yellow card and be disqualified for their potential Round of 16 match.