For all of Juventus’ struggles in pursuit of winning the Champions League in recent years, nobody thought that they would be fighting to stay in the competition after the round of 16 first leg this season.
The Old Lady were stunned by Porto when they made the trip to Portugal, with two goals at the beginning of each half enough to give the Portuguese side a 2-1 lead heading into the second leg. Mehdi Taremi bagged the first, capitalising on a mistake at the back after barely a minute.
At a glance, it feels like a simple goal for a relatively unknown striker. There is more than meets the eye when looking at Porto’s number nine, however. Here is all you need to know about Taremi.
Despite being 28 years old – an age where most players are considered to be entering their prime – Taremi only arrived to European football in 2019.
He’s worked endlessly hard to get to the Portuguese top flight, however, scoring goals for fun in Qatar and his native Iran along the way. The Champions League is a fresh challenge again, however, which he is raring to go for.
Age is just a number.
Taremi has endured hardship on his way to the limelight.
During the 2017/18 season, he had a contract dispute with Turkish Super Lig side Çaykur Rizespor in 2016 that saw him agree a move to the club before deciding to stay in Iran with Persepolis.
FIFA ruled in favour of Çaykur Rizespor and he was banned in September 2017 until the coming January, when he left the club. It hasn’t slowed down his progress, however.
The 28-year-old isn’t blessed with a technical skillset that sets him apart from the rest, but he is an expert in finding the back of the net.
Taremi is a complete goal poacher. He sits on the shoulder of the defender and will pop up inside the box from nowhere to finish off a move, or peel away to convert a through ball with supreme comfort.
His positioning in the box and awareness to anticipate where the ball will end up is seriously impressive and demonstrates his excellent striker IQ.
Taremi’s strike against Juventus made him only the fifth Iranian to score in the UEFA Champions League. Not bad, right?
We can go one better, though – his goal is the first scored by an Iranian in the knockout stages of the competition.
Another Champions League record? Oh go on then.
Not only is Taremi flying the flag for Iran in Europe’s elite competition, but he has also chased down the accolade for the fastest goal scored in the knockout stages.
His goal after just 63 seconds is the second-fastest in the knockout stages behind only David Alaba, who scored after 24 seconds for Bayern Munich in 2013. Funnily enough, both goals came against Juventus.
Like, really prolific.
Taremi finished as top scorer in the Iranian second division in 2013/14, before winning back-to-back golden boot awards in the top flight in 2015/16 and 2016/17.
If that wasn’t enough, he wound up joint-top scorer of the 2019/20 Primeira Liga in his maiden season with Rio Ave, and currently sits on nine goals and seven assists from 17 league games this season.