ENGLAND v IRAN : Match review

England v Iran
FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022
Group B Qualifier

16:30 Iran Time
13:00 GMT, Monday 21 November 2022
Khalifa International Stadium – Dolha

Team Melli begins the 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign against the Three Lions in what will be the first-ever meeting between the nations at the senior level.
Iran, was drawn out against Gareth Southgate’s England, USA and Wales at the draw in Doha on 1 April.

  • ● This will be the first-ever encounter between England and Iran. Team Melli has never beaten European opposition at the FIFA World Cup (D2 L6).
  • This is the third time in a row that Carlos Queiroz has coached Iran in the World Cup.
  • Iran has qualified for the third World Cup in a row since WC2014. A first in the Team’s history
  • ● England have qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the 16th time. It’s their seventh appearance in a row, their longest streak in the competition.
  • ● England set the best goal difference in the group stage of European qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scoring 39 goals and conceding only three (+36).
  • ● England are the only European team to have reached the semi-finals in each of the last two major tournaments (FIFA World Cup + EURO).
  • ● 12 of England’s last 18 goals at the FIFA World Cup have been scored from set-pieces. In fact, 75% of their goals in 2018 came from dead ball situations (9 out of 12).
  • ● Iran have never progressed past the first round of the FIFA World Cup, winning only two of their 15 matches (v USA in 1998 and Morocco in 2018). This is their sixth participation in the tournament, including their third in a row.
  • ● Iran have scored nine goals in 15 FIFA World Cup matches; at 0.6, it’s the lowest goals-per-game ratio of any nation to play more than 10 games in the competition. They’ve only netted more than once in one of their 15 games, a 2-1 win over the USA in 1998.
  • ● Gareth Southgate has guided England to the last four in each of his two tournaments as national team head-coach. Only Sir Alf Ramsey can boast a similar record as England boss (WC winners in 1966, Euro semi-finalists in 1968).
  • ● England striker Harry Kane was the top scorer in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with five of his six goals coming in the group stages. No player has ever been top/joint-top scorer at two different World Cup tournaments.
  • ● Despite only playing six times, no Iran player was involved in more goals during the third round of Asian World Cup qualifying than Mehdi Taremi (4 goals, 2 assists).

Coach: Carlos Quieroz
Qualified from: First in AFC qualifying group
Qualifying top scorer: Mehdi Taremi (Porto)
FIFA World Cup best performance: group stage (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018)

Form guide

After consecutive defeats to group rivals Bahrain and Iraq respectively in late 2019, Iran looked like they wouldn’t even make it through to the last round of Asian qualifying, let alone reach a third straight World Cup finals. Then COVID-19 hit, and Iran were able to push the reset button. Coach Marc Wilmots was replaced, Iran won their four remaining second-round games – all played in neutral Bahrain because of the pandemic – and never looked back. They won eight out of ten games in round three to qualify alongside fellow AFC big hitters South Korea.


Off the back of seven years coaching in Iran’s domestic leagues, Dragan Skocic was seen as a safe pair of hands when he took over from Wilmots in February 2020. Although Iran’s demanding fans would prefer their team to play on the front foot, defence was the bedrock of their success under the Croat, with just five goals conceded in 14 qualifiers. Skocic – who had experimented with a variety of attacking shapes in front of his favoured back four – was dismissed as head coach in July, only to be immediately reinstated. But his stay of execution didn’t last long and, in early September, the new president of the Iranian Football Federation, Mehdi Taj, replaced Skocic with Carlos Queiroz, the former Manchester United assistant and Real Madrid coach who led Iran at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

World Cup pedigree

Despite qualifying for the finals six times, including four of the last six, Iran have never progressed beyond the group stage, although they did come close in 2018, beating Morocco and drawing with Portugal in a tough group also containing Spain.

Stars on show

In front of a compact defense and industrious midfield, Iran relies heavily on the mercurial attacking talents of Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun – who have been prolific goalscorers for Porto and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, and the creativity of Feyenoord’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who Premier League fans might remember from his three seasons with Brighton & Hove Albion. During the qualifiers, the central back duo Shojaá Khalilzadeh and Hossein Kananizadegan created a formidable defense in front of the goal.


Iran: Top star Sardar Azmoun is doubtful for the England game. It is not clear if he has trained since arriving in Doha to join the Team Melli squad. There are no more injuries reported amongst the players since the match against Tunisia was played behind closed doors, and little if any information is available.

England: Kyle Walker is traveling with the English team while not fully fit. It is almost certain that he will miss the first match against Iran. James Maddison is also a doubt as he missed training today in favor of some light work in the gym.