Fresh from their 2-0 win over Wales that has reignited their World Cup hopes, Iran have become embroiled in a spat with the United States Football Federation after a controversial tweet by the latter led to calls from the former for the United States to be kicked out of the World Cup.

The controversy adds further spice to Tuesday’s encounter between the two in Group B which will see the winner qualify for the knockout stage of the competition, with the losers going home.

Bet365 Sport has the United States the 21/20 favourites to win that game, with Iran the 14/5 outsiders and the draw a 12/5 shot (which would suit Iran and eliminate the United States).

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So how has this latest controversy boiled up and is there any chance that the United States will be kicked out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

USSF Make Flag ‘Mistake’

The controversy started after the United States played very well in their 0-0 draw with England, maintaining their unbeaten record at World Cup Finals against the English team and playing by far the better football in the game.

Earlier in the day, Iran had beaten Wales 2-0 to move into second place in the group behind England and the result of the US v England game made England top by a point, with the United States a point behind Iran in third on two points, but with their final game against Iran to come, the United States still have their destiny in their own hands.

However, when the USSF put out a tweet that showed the current state of play in Group B, alongside each team was shown a flag, only on the Iranian flag, the symbol in the centre of the flag for Allah had been removed.

Women’s Rights

Rumours began to circulate that the USSF had done this on purpose to offer support to those protesting in Iran for regime change, but it also sparked a furious response from Iran who started a trend under the hashtag #ExpellUSA claiming the move was a huge disrespect to the nation and they urged FIFA to deal with the USA according to the 13th Chapter of the FIFA statute.

Which essentially would see the team expelled from the tournament.

The USSF then moved to confirm that they had made the decision to show support for women in Iran to have equal rights, although it is a somewhat odd way to show that support it must be said.

Especially when the Iran team has already made a show of supporting women’s rights in their own way by refusing to sing the national anthem in the first game.

This is just the latest controversy within what has been a divisive World Cup on so many levels, with FIFA effectively banning countries from protesting by wearing One Love captain’s armbands, anger over historic human rights abuses in Qatar and also the fact that the country is accused of using migrant workers as effective slave labour to bukd the infrastructure for the World Cup, at a cost of many lives.

So far FIFA have not become embroiled in the argument and it seems highly unlikely, if not impossible that the governing body would sanction the US Team over the Tweet, with perhaps the only ramification being a warning to the USSF not to do so again.

Stokes Up Tensions

What this does do however is stoke up the tension ahead of the game between the two on Tuesday this week.

With England facing Wales at the same time, who qualifies from the group to move forward into knockout stage will only be decided by the outcome of both games, although Wales chances of progress look very slim and England would need to lose the game to Wales by a 4-0 scoreline in order not to progress.

This means that effectively the game between Iran and the United States is a knockout clash, with the winner progressing into the Round of 16 (although if it is a draw, the United States would be eliminated).

The problem that Gregg Berhalter’s team face is that they have only played Iran once before in the World Cup Finals, a game that they lost 2-1 back in the 1998 World Cup Finals in France.

They have played one friendly, which finished in a 1-1 draw in the year 2000, but the two teams have not faced each other since.

The United States come into this game with just one win in their last six, although they have drawn four of those games, but a draw would not be enough here.

Iran bounced back from their 6-2 mauling by England to put in a fantastic display against Wales, fully earning their 2-0 victory, a result which moved them into second place in the group after the USA and England’s 0-0 draw.

There’s no doubt that with so much at stake, and their sure to be a large number of Iranian fans in the stadium for the game, that Iran will likely have the majority of the support in their favour and could that tip the game in their favour?

Iran V United States – Team News And Tips

Iran have a number of injury concerns for the game. Alireza Beiranvand, the goalkeeper who had a nasty head injury in the game with England, could return for this game as he is now out of concussion protocol, but Hossein Hosseini did keep a clean sheet against Wales and would be unlucky to lose his place in the team.

A major concern is star striker Serdar Azmoun, who is still struggling with the lingering effects of a calf injury, while Alireza Jahanbaksh will be suspended for the game after picking up two yellow cards in his opening two games.

Iran Possible Team – Hosseini.H, Rezaeian, Hosseini.M, Pouraliganji, Mohammadi, Ali Gholizadeh, Nourollahi, Ezatolahi, Hajsafi, Taremi, Azmoun.

Gregg Berhalter’s mindset for this game has to switch from getting a result against England, to securing a win here and that may well make him make a change from the team that played so well in the game with the English and during the first half of their opening game against Wales.

The midfield trio of McKennie, Adams and Musah have been superb at this World Cup and they will likely continue, while Pulisic and Weah should continue in attack and the back five of goalkeeper Turner, plus defenders Dest, Ream, Zimmerman and Robinson should all retain their places.

The change could well come in attack with Josh Sargeant starting against Wales and then Haji Wright doing so against England. The USA need goals here and that could mean Gio Reyna, Dortmund’s exciting youngster, could get the nod here.

United States Possible Team – Turner, Dest, Robinson, Zimmerman, Ream, Musah, Adams, McKennie, Weah, Pulisic, Reyna

What Are Our Tips?

Make no mistake, this is a massive game in this World Cup, and not just for football reasons either. I think the United States are going to find this as tough, if not tougher than the game with England.

For me, the first goal is crucial and the team that scores it will, in my view, likely go on to win the game and also qualify for the knockout phase.

The longer this game goes without a goal, the more that will suit the United States I feel. The last thing Berhalter will want, is an early goal for Iran to get the crowd even more pumped up for the game than they already will be.

This will be close and it may take a moment of brilliance to win this game but I am backing the United States to come through this test.

  • Full Time Result – United States – 11/10
  • Correct Score – Iran 1-2 United States – 9/1
  • Anytime Goalscorer – Christian Pulisic (USA) – 13/5