This will be Iran's fifth World Cup, with the nation having never succeeded in making it out of the group stage at past tournaments. In fact, Iran has only ever won a single World Cup match, with their sole victory coming against the United States in 1998. Despite failing to make their mark on the global competition, Iran has won the Asian Cup three times and the team has looked decent in recent friendlies and qualifiers.
The squad is coached by Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese manager who has been in charge of Real Madrid, Portugal, and South Africa in the past. Queiroz has done well so far, leading Iran to the 2014 World Cup strongly and then helping the team go undefeated in qualification for this summer's tournament.
Key players include striker Sardar Azmoun, who has 23 goals in 33 appearances, as well as forward Reza Ghoochannejhad and defender Ehsan Hajsafi. Cast in a group alongside European Champions Portugal and former World Champions Spain, Iran will struggle to reach the knockout round, but their defensive style of play and talented range of attacking options could see the squad spring a surprise or two.