Persepolis and Esteghlal take the center stage at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on Thursday when they square off in the 88th Tehran derby.
Esteghlal edged its archrival when these two last met in March, courtesy of a sole Voria Ghafouri’s first-half strike.
Having booked a semifinal spot at the AFC Champions League at the expense of Qatar’s Al Duhail, Branko Ivankovic’s men seek to keep up the momentum going into the game as a late Adam Hemmati’s goal on Sunday gave the Reds a 1-0 home victory over Sepidroud Rasht.
A victory will see Persepolis – second in the table with 15 points – jump into the top spot before current leader Padideh plays away to Pars Jonoubi on Friday.
Ivankovic also hopes that a derby triumph uplifts his team’s sprit before next week’s trip to Qatar for the Champions League semifinal first-leg fixture against Al Sadd.
Esteghlal, meanwhile, will have its own reason to go for all three points in Thursday’s clash.
Winfried Schafer’s men have only managed one victory in the league this season – a 3-0 home win over Tractorsazi in Matchday 3 – and will be hoping to get back to the winning ways following an aggregate 5-3 continental defeat against Al Sadd before they were held to a goalless away draw against Javad Nekounam’s newly promoted side Nassaji Mazandaran.
Tehran’s Blues are currently 11th in the table with a game in hand – nine points behind Padideh – and a first league victory since August 10 will definitely put them back in the title race.