Group C in the Asian Cup reaches its climax on Tuesday and Iran will be looking to make it a perfect three wins from three when they take on United Arab Emirates in Al Rayyan.
Team Melli opened their campaign with a convincing 4-1 win over Palestine, before professionally dispatching of Hong Kong 1-0 to ensure they qualified for the knockout stage with a game to spare.
Whilst UAE could only manage a 1-1 draw with Palestine after their opening 3-1 win over Hong Kong, suggesting they may be second best when they face Iran on Tuesday.
Section leaders Iran are unsurprisingly favourites for the win, with their odds of 4/7 noticeably shorter than UAE at 9/2, whilst the draw is available at 12/5.
Both teams to score looks plausible and is available at 6/5, while a goal-fest with the ball hitting the net on three or more occasions has been chalked up at 5/4.
Iran were without Shojae Khalilzadeh and Ali Gholizadeh for their win over Hong Kong and both could miss out once more as they continue to rest before the knockout stage.
With Team Melli already through, Amir Ghalenoei may shuffle the pack and the likes of Sardar Azmoun could get the nod from the start.
UAE will have to do without Khlaifa Al Hammadi for this match after the centre-back was sent off against Palestine, with Khalid Al-Hashemi the likeliest candidate to fill in in the heart of defence.
Iran to win and over 1.5 goals @ 23/20
Three-time Asian Cup champions Iran will be looking to secure the easiest route possible in the knockouts, meaning they must avoid defeat against UAE to hang on to top spot in Group C.
They look set to do so and make it three wins from three in the section. Team Melli are on a 15-match unbeaten run, held their own at the 2022 World Cup and are facing a side that has beaten them just once in 18 meetings - with Iran winning 14 of those games.
UAE are a far weaker side than a lot of the teams Iran have beaten in their unbeaten sequence, as shown by their 1-1 draw with minnows Palestine last time out and they could struggle in Al Rayyan.
Eight of Iran’s last nine matches have gone over 1.5 goals - with them doing most of the scoring in those ties - suggesting they may net a few when beating the Whites, although they did concede in their win over Palestine so it would be no surprise to see UAE add to the goals total too.
Expect Team Melli to win an exciting tie, possibly by a score of 2-1, and make it a perfect group campaign as they build momentum for the latter stages.
Mehdi Ghayedi to score @ 16/5
Porto striker Mehdi Taremi was expected to be Iran’s main man at this tournament, after scoring three times at the 2019 Asian Cup and twice at the 2022 World Cup, but it has been his namesake Mehdi Ghayedi who has shone brightest so far.
The Ittihad Kalba forward has netted in both games so far and has looked lively throughout, registering two shots in each match.
Having plied his trade in the UAE this season, Ghayedi will be very aware of his opponents in this tie and could use that to his advantage to get on the scoresheet once more.
The two-goal man can be backed to bag a third at 16/5 and trusting the in-form forward may not be the worst play.
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