As far as politics goes, the FIFA World Cup is unlikely to throw up a match-up with more animosity. Through years of cultural divides and accusations of meddling from both sides, one thing is clear: America and Iran are not allies. It would even be churlish to say they are associates. Sanctions and years of cultural division has meant that this match, just as it did in the past, arrives with an already lit fuse.
The drama also stems from the fact that, really, both teams are not great. They will play on the third match day, and both could already be out by this point. Both might also know that a result could see them through – given how tight the group is after England, it is almost impossible to determine who will be left at the end of this process.
One thing is for sure – this is going to be one of the most exciting match-ups of the group stages.
Who will win this tie?
Iran. America arrive with a coach under pressure, a forward line who love to miss goals, and no real tactical fluency. They look all over the place. Iran, meanwhile, arrive amid a challenging political and social backdrop. What they do have, though, is a team that has immense continuity together and a coach who has managed them one and off for years.
In Carlos Queiroz, they have the better tactician. In Mehdi Taremi, they have the best striker. Throw in the chance for immortality with a win, too, and this feels like an Iranian win is forthcoming.