Group D gets underway on Sunday with Mexico meeting Iran in Nuremberg.
Mexico goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez is expected to start his side’s World Cup opener despite returning home after the sudden death of his father on Thursday.
I’m very motivated,” Sanchez said. “I got a lot of support from the people in Guadalajara. Tomorrow’s a big game and I’m ready to play.”
Barcelona’s Rafael Marquez will start in the backline while Jared Borgetti’s 14 qualifying goals means he will start up front.
Mexico are competing in their 13th World Cup. They have twice reached the quarter-finals in 1970 and 1986, but on both occasions they were playing on their home soil and their failure to perform outside their homeland remains one of the game biggest mysteries.
This will be Iran’s third World Cup. They went out in the group phase in 1978 and 1998. Their only win at a World Cup finals came in a memorable encounter against the United States in 1998.
Both sides know this is a must not lose game if they are to make it to the knockout stages.
“This is the most important game. We know the game against Portugal will be really hard also so we really need to gain points in this game,” said Iran skipper Ali Daei.
“Our coaching staff is analysing Mexico really well and every player is aware of the Mexican players and their style of the game. We know how to play against Mexico,” Daei added.
“I think winning against Mexico is not unreachable. Mexico are a very good team but it’s not unbeatable.”
Iran welcome strikers Ali Karimi and Mehdi Mahdavikia back to the starting line-up after ankle and back injuries respectively.
Midfielder Fereydoon Zandi definitely misses out and Hadi Shakoury is on stand-by to replace left-back Sattar Zare, who has a knee injury and may miss the entire tournament.
Mexico: Sanchez, Salcido, Pineda, Marquez, Osorio, Castro, Torrado, Naelson, Pardo, Borgetti, Franco.
Iran: Mirzapour, Kaebi, Rezaei, Golmohammadi, Nosrati, Mahdavikia, Nekounam, Teymoorian, Hashemian, Karimi, Daei.
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)