As if to emphasise how pressurised the qualification campaign for a World Cup is, just take a look at Group A of the Asian section of qualifying. Some 15 matches have been played there, and yet only three – that’s 20% - have witnessed three or more goals. These teams are desperate to be on the plane to Russia, and that is being reflected in their football at present.
Between them, Iran and China have only delivered a single ‘overs’ match, and so that acts as a handy marker for punters looking to place a wager on this fixture.
1. The Bookies Choice
Iran top the pile in Group A with three wins and two draws from their five starts, and their goal columns – four for, zero against – enlighten us about how they like to play their football. No risks are taken, with an emphasis on solid and organised defence the key. On home soil they have beaten South Korea and Qatar by 1-0 and 2-0 scorelines respectively.
China are bottom of Group A but you can’t say they have been blown away by the rest. They have drawn two of their five matches and conceded just six goals; unfortunately for them, five have come in away matches, so we can see where their weakness lies.
So this bears all the hallmarks of a low-scoring home victory… doesn’t it?
The bookmakers certainly think so, and they will make Iran their comfortable favourites here.
But low-scoring games can throw up some surprise results, so both the draw and the China victory will be of interest to punters with a penchant for backing the outsider.
2. Iran v China Betting Tips
The reason why we like Iran is that they blazed their way through the second round of qualifying; they were unbeaten in eight (W6 D2 L0) and blasted 26 goals, including 17 in four at home. Obviously, the standard then was a lot lower than it is in this ‘group of winners’, but it still stands up Iran as an outstanding proposition in their own country. They simply don’t concede goals – just three shipped in their last thirteen World Cup qualifiers – and as such they fully deserve their favouritism in the market.
What can we say about China? They just squeaked through the second round of qualifying as the fourth (and final) best runner-up, and while they notched 27 goals in eight games a remarkable 18 of those came in two games against Bhutan!
The higher quality of this third phase has caught the Chinese out, and while they haven’t necessarily been completely outclassed two goals scored in more than 450 minutes of football is indicative of their attacking frailty.
As such, punters have two avenues of attack here: either Iran to Win to Nil, or Iran to Win & Under 2.5 Goals. For us, the former is the best value wager.
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