When these two met at France ‘98, it was known as the ‘mother of all games’ given the geo-political tensions between the two nations.
That night, Iran actually won 2-1 in Lyon, thereby claiming their first-ever World Cup victory.
In pure sporting terms, that game had little consequences, both were eliminated, while, this time, qualification is on the line.
IR Iran, despite beginning their campaign by being demolished 6-2 by England, come into this final matchday second in Group B.
That’s because, on Monday, Carlos Queiroz’s team beat Wales, claiming just the country’s third World Cup win ever.
Rouzbeh Cheshmi’s rocket breaking the deadlock in the 98th minute, before Ramin Rezaeian bundled home the clincher three minutes later.
Despite needing the latest winning goal in World Cup history, excluding extra time, don’t be fooled, Team Melli fully deserved that victory.
So now, IR Iran are on the cusp of reaching the knockout stages for the very first time.
While they only need a point, this game is simply must win for the United States.
The U.S. have drawn both matches in Qatar; Tim Weah netting in a 1-1 with Wales, before it finished scoreless when they took on England on Black Friday.
In a game where clear-cut chances were few and far between, it was Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie who came closest to the breakthrough.
If Gregg Berhalter’s team win here, they’ll advance at Iran’s expense, but their lack of creativity in-front of goal is a concern, particularly when up against this well-drilled, compact Iranian outfit.
This one isn’t likely to be high-scoring, so who will be jubilant and who will be dejected come full time at Al-Thumama Stadium?
IR Iran team news
First-choice goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand went off with a concussion against England in their opener.
This meant Hossein Hosseini deputised against Wales, although Beiranvand is likely to be reinstalled for this one.
One Alireza who won’t be involved is Feyenoord’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who is suspended after being booked in both matches.
Fellow star attacker Sardar Azmoun has been nursing a muscle fibre for many months now, but they’ll be desperate to get him on the field.
Mehdi Taremi though remains their main man for goals, having scored twice against England eight days ago.
Predicted XI (4-1-4-1): Beiranvand; Rezaeian, Pouraliganji, Hosseini, Mohammadi; Hajsafi, Nourollahi, Ezatolahi, Gholizadeh, Azmoun; Taremi.
United States team news
The United States made just a solitary change from game one to game two, with Josh Sargent dropping out and Haji Wright leading the line.
Either one, or potentially even Jesús Ferreira, who’s yet to feature in Qatar, could get the nod up top here.
Gio Reyna came on for his first action of the tournament against England, entering in the 83rd minute, and could be a key weapon, even if only from the bench again.
Brenden Aaronson is the only other player who could realistically break into this side, although Gregg Berhalter is unlikely to disrupt the Adams-McKennie-Musah midfield axis from the start.
Matt Turner has kept 15 clean sheets in 22 international appearances, and further improving that % will be key if the U.S. are to reach the knockout phase.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): Turner; Dest, Zimmerman, Ream, Robinson; Adams, McKennie, Musah; Weah, Ferreira, Pulisic.