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Sports

It won’t be easy against Iran, says Iniesta

media Midfielder Andres Iniesta will be one of the key players for Spain in their match against Iran. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz on Wednesday urged his players to embrace the challenge of playing against Spain in their second Group B clash.

Queiroz’s men go into the game at the Kazan Arena in pole position following their opening day win over Morocco.

“All of the players are very excited and very happy for this opportunity to play against a fantastic team such as Spain which has great players,” said Queiroz.

“We’re in a win-win situation. It will be a unique opportunity for the national team players. They will learn more about the game, grow up and be better and, for sure, we as a team will be better after playing Spain.”

That Iran are Group B leaders is a surprise. It is a situation that Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta says he and his teammates play to deconstruct.

"Players always want to win the biggest possible trophies and it's no secret we'd like to win the World Cup," he said ahead of the clash.

The 34-year-old, who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, will retire from international duty after the tournament in Russia. He will continue his club career at Vissel Kobe in Japan after one of the most trophy laden careers in Spanish football with Barcelona.

"It won't be easy against Iran,” Iniesta added. “We have to work very hard but we have a dream that we're all focused on. If we win, it will give us an advantage in our group and then we can start to look towards the later stages.

On paper, Spain, ranked 10th in the world, should not face too many qualms beating an Iran outfit that sits 27 places below them.

But Spain coach Fernando Hierro says he will not take any Queiroz coached team lightly.

"Everyone knows Carlos from his days with Manchester United and Real Madrid. And he's done a great job with Iran,” Hierro said.  "They'll go on the pitch knowing what they want to do. It's not easy to score against them. They're strong physically so it's going to be tough.”

He added: "It's our second game and it will be difficult. We have a lot of respect for Iran as we do for every opponent.

 "But we also have our own personality and our own style, and we trust in our own game."

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