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England vs Iran: Match preview, predicted line-ups, quotes, form, injuries and how to watch
Can Gareth Southgate and his players begin the group stages with a victory in Doha?
When and where to watch England vs Iran?
England vs Iran kicks off at 1pm on Monday 21st November.
You can watch all the action from the Khalifa International Stadium on BBC One via BT TV.
England vs Iran match preview
The wait is over. All the talk, the speculation and debate around Gareth Southgate’s squad selection has come to an end.
Attention now turns to England's opening game which will be the first to follow after host nation Qatar get the tournament underway against Ecuador on Sunday.
The eyes of the world will be on England then, and most will expect a victory for the Three Lions against unfancied Iran.
Southgate will be wary of any complacency though. The opening game of World Cup 2018 against Tunisia proved far trickier than expected and required an injury-time winner from Harry Kane.
Iran are more than capable of frustrating opponents with a low block, an approach England may face in every group game given their status as clear favourites to progress.
Carlos Queiroz’s team only conceded four goals in ten matches in their qualification group and won several matches 1-0, so their gameplan on Monday won’t be difficult to predict, though the Portuguese coach only took the job in September.
England scored more goals than any country in Europe during qualifying - 39 in 10 games - but breaking down Iran could still be a challenge.
The creativity and intricacy of the likes of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish could be key as England look to avoid an afternoon of frustration.
England vs Iran predicted lineups
England: Pickford; Stones, Maguire, Dier, Trippier, Rice, Bellingham, Shaw, Mount, Foden, Kane
Iran: Beiranvand; Moharrami, Khalilzadeh, Kanaanizadegan, Hajsafi, Ezatolahi, Sarlak, Ghoddos, Gholizadeh, Taremi, Ansarifard
England vs Iran: Injuries and suspensions
Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips are still injury doubts for England and could miss out on the first game, though Southgate will hope his squad has the required depth to navigate the early stages of the tournament.
James Maddison is also a doubt after he was taken off in the first half of Leicester’s win at West Ham last weekend.
For Iran, Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun hasn’t played since early October and faces a race against time to return to full fitness having been selected by Queiroz.
Form (last 6 matches)
England – LDDLLD
Iran – LWLWDW
England vs Iran: Form guide
There has been plenty of talk about England’s questionable results heading into the tournament, particularly in the Nations League.
Southgate’s team have failed to win any of their last six matches, including a 4-0 loss to Hungary, a scoreline that certainly raised eyebrows.
It’s a legitimate concern that England haven’t won since March - a 3-0 friendly victory against Ivory Coast - and appeared oddly dishevelled in the Nations League.
The priority, though, was qualifying for the World Cup and that was achieved in style. Even during the recent bad run, England twice drew with Germany, so competing with the best teams is not an impossibility.
Iran, meanwhile, head into the tournament on the back of a 1-0 friendly win over Nicaragua. In September, they pulled off an impressive 1-0 victory against Uruguay and followed that up with a 1-1 draw away to Senegal.
Their last defeat came in June - a 2-1 reversal to Algeria - and Iran are rarely beaten heavily.
He said what?!
Gareth Southgate has highlighted the importance of being focused in the first game:
“That is always the case with tournaments and first games, there is so much emphasis on it anyway.
“It was the same for us in Russia with the Tunisia game, it was a really tough game for us and we ended up scoring in stoppage time.
“We know it's a really tough first fixture for us - there will be a different view of us from the fans who look at England and expect us to beat everybody.
“But we know Iran, the US and Wales is the strongest group in terms of rankings across the four teams.
“We have got belief in ourselves - we haven't had a good run of results, but we know what we're capable of, we've been to a semi-final and a final.
“We want to approach this tournament as we did the previous ones as a chance to take our country on an enjoyable journey, an opportunity to create some moments of football that will live with people forever.”
England vs Iran: Players to watch
Porto forward Mehdi Taremi is the obvious danger man for Iran. The key for England’s opponents on Monday will be getting the ball into areas where their most threatening attacking player can do some damage.
Taremi has excelled for Porto over the last three seasons, scoring 62 goals in 114 appearances for the Portuguese side.
The 30-year-old also has 28 goals in 60 caps for Iran and played in Qatar for Al-Gharafa just a few years ago, so he will be used to the heat in Doha.
Defender Hossein Kanaanizadegan is another key man for Iran and will be central to their hopes of beating England and qualifying from Group B.
The 28-year-old plays his club football for Al Ahli Doha in Qatar and is a sizeable unit. Harry Kane could be in for a tough physical battle.