Of all the opening matches in group play, the Iran – Nigeria matchup in Group F might be the most low-profile. The two nations meet on Monday in Curitiba with both expected to aggressively pursue victory.
With Argentina and Bosnia-Hercegovina included in Group F, Iran and Nigeria both may need three points to have any chance of advancing to the Round of 16.
"The most important is the first game,” said Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz, who previously guided Portugal, South Africa, and has served as the boss of Real Madrid.
"We cannot miss this opportunity to face them with pleasure and enjoyment. We must treat them as they are, no more, no less. There are no perfect teams in the world.
"Our goal is simple: if they make a mistake, we will be ready to capitalize. We have to be in the right places at the right time.
"Not 90 percent (of the time), but 100 percent."
Indeed, there may be little room for error for Iran, who are ranked No. 43 by FIFA. They are expected to rely on attacking midfielder Ashkan Dejagah, a German citizen who played for Germany youth teams and spent a bulk of his career with Hertha and Wolfsburg before moving to Fulham in 2012.
Iran will also depend on Charlton Athletic forward Reza Ghoochannejhad, who emigrated to the Netherlands when he was eight years old, and has been Iran’s most reliable scorer. Ghoochannejhad scored just one goal for Charlton Athletic in 15 appearances, but was a force in World Cup qualifying.
While Iran may be a longshot to advance, the chances seem higher for Nigeria. Head coach Stephen Keshi, who has coached Mali and Togo, will have several weapons to choose from.
Two Chelsea midfielders are expected to star for the Super Eagles. Mikel Obi, 27, and Victor Moses, 23, are both in their primes, and could be difference-makers in Brazil.
While Obi has been a major contributor for the Blues since his arrival in 2006, Moses is looking to strengthen his chances of gaining playing time for the club by proving his worth in the World Cup.
England defender Luke Shaw recently praised Moses as his toughest opponent.
“A tough one but I'm going for Victor Moses, purely for his pace and power found it a very difficult test,” Shaw said, according to the Daily Mail.
While Iran may have plenty of evidence on how Nigeria plays, the same can’t be said for Nigeria when it comes to Iran.
"They have a very good coach and I'm sure they also have some quality players,” said Keshi about Iran. “We don't know Iran very well, but we'll see them on Monday."
Start Time: Monday, 3 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online Stream: A live online stream is available at Watch ESPN here
Betting Odds: Nigeria 10/11 favorites
What to Expect: Iran will likely try to capitalize with counterattacks as Nigeria tries to jump out to an early lead. Don’t be surprised if Nigeria pounces on Iran’s mistakes and scores early.
Prediction: Nigeria over Iran, 2-0