IR Iran take on Japan at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 semi-finals tonight, and the clash promises big things. Two of the tournament’s heavyweights go at it in this contest, with only one final place up for grabs.
Something has got to give in this summit clash, but Iran are clear favorites based on their performance in the tournament thus far. Team Melli have looked ruthless in front of goal and solid at the back, making this a game worth watching if you come from West Asia.
Iran train for their Asian Cup semi-final against Japan
But, Japan can never be ruled out, and they will have players capable of making a difference.
Japan prepare for their Asian Cup semi-final against Iran
#5 Alireza Beiranvand (Iran)
The goalkeeper is hugely important in a game as high stakes as this one, and it is specially the case for Beiranvand, considering the Iranian hasn’t let a goal in so far.
His form has been immaculate, and his ability to throw the ball a long distance could come into play if Iran play on the counter. Moreover, he has already saved a penalty in the competition, so his confidence will be sky high. Don’t be surprised if he makes all the difference tonight.
#4 Ritsu Doan (Japan)
The match-winner for Japan from the quarter-finals, Ritsu Doan has the ability to push Japan forward from midfield. His passing ability can spot the best of runs, and could prove vital for the Samurai Blue as they look to score goals.
Doan is also the resident spot-kick taker for his nation as was visible from the Vietnam game, and he is generally clinical from penalties, making him an asset worth watching out for.
#3 Ashkan Dejagah (Iran)
It is pertinent to note that Iran will be without the services of suspended Mehdi Taremi for the semi-final against Japan. This means that attacking midfield could prove to be important for Team Melli, and who better than the experienced Ashkan Dejagah to provide the goods.
It has been a tournament to remember for the midfielder thus far, and he could be the man yet again for his nation in the absence of Taremi, playing in passes to the striker who will surely be Sardar Azmoun.
#2 Yuya Osako (Japan)
A returning Yuya Osako could hold the key for Japan as he returns from an injury lay-off that saw him miss action since the first game where he scored two goals for his nation.
Having returned from the bench in the quarter-final, he is surely going to be a starter for Hajime Moriyasu’s men tonight, and could be the primary outlet for the Japanese. His ability to finish once inside the box could prove to be crucial in this last four encounter.
#1 Sardar Azmoun (Iran)
Even the best of defenders need to bow down to the power and speed of Sardar Azmoun, and undoubtedly the spotlight will be on the young striker as Iran look to score.
His goals have proved the difference so far in the tournament, and he looks hungry for many more. Against the likes of Tomiyasu and Yoshida, Azmoun will need to work hard, but knowing his attitude, he will relish the challenge that comes his way.