Morocco have not lost any of their last 18 international matches with their unbeaten run lasting over a year now so they come into this tournament with plenty of confidence especially in facing Iran.
Despite this being their first appearance at the World Cup finals since 1998, they harbour hopes of springing a surprise against either the Spanish or Portuguese, but they know a win here is imperative.
There is some quality within their ranks with Benatia leading the line in defence and the likes of Amrabat and Ziyech offering guile and flair going forward as they try to unlock this Iranian defence.
Predicted line-up (4-2-3-1):
Dirar, Benatia, Saiss, Mendyl
El Ahmadi, Boussoufa
N. Amrabat, Belhanda, Ziyech
Doubtful: Dirar, Hakimi
Iran kick off the tournament with the hugely experienced and respected Carflos Quieroz at the helm, and they will be hoping to carry their impressive form in qualifying into the final tournament. That said, in a group with two top European teams, they will likely be content with doing themselves justice and with pride.
This match represents their best chance of getting a positive result and they have a couple of injury concerns for this opening match with regular starting right-back Rezaeian expected to pass fit for this one.
Shojaei and Azmoun will lead their attacking hopes and they do have more firepower and creativity in the likes of Ansarifard, Ghoddos and Ghoochannejhad, but the big questions will be asked of their defensive unit which shone in qualifying, although will be tested against such quality opposition.
Predicted line-up (4-4-1-1):
Rezaeian, Cheshmi, Pouraliganji, Mohammadi
Jahanbakhsh, Ezatolahi, Hajsafi, Taremi
Doubtful: Rezaeian, Dejagah
This match comfortably represents both teams’ best opportunity to pick up a win in Russia and that may see a more open match despite this being the opening match in the group. This could be a surprise candidate for featuring a few goals with that in mind. Neither team has much calibre in World Cup history, but Morocco have the edge in form over the last 12 months as they are tough to beat, but also have some good attacking players too. Despite having Carlos Queiroz in charge, the Iranians may struggle to get a point in the group, and Morocco have to be favoured Draw No Bet here.