World Cup: Will confident Morocco upset Spain?

Neighbours Morocco and Spain will battle it out for a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals at the Education City Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The 2010 world champions had to stay content with a runner-up spot in Group E after dropping points in their last two group matches against Germany and Spain.

Morocco beat the odds to claim the top spot of Group F ahead of Croatia, Belgium, and Canada.

Morocco started their World Cup campaign with a goalless draw against Croatia.

The African side would regret walking away from that tie with only a point as they crafted the better chances against an uninspiring Croatia side. But Walid Regragui’s troops made no mistake in the next two matches as they dispatched Belgium and Canada comfortably to seal the Group F top spot.

Dubbed the golden generation of Morocco, the current crop of Morocco players features many talents who ply their trades in the highly competitive European leagues.

The Atlas Lions will look to harness the youthful energy and newfound confidence to write another glorious chapter in their football history.

Morocco will make it to their first-ever World Cup quarterfinal if they get the better of Spain on Monday.

Many believe that the defeat against Japan came as a blessing in disguise for Spain, as they will be playing against Morocco instead of Croatia in the round of 16.

But Spain manager Luis Enrique will be wary of the fact La Roja had to rely on a last-gasp Iago Aspas equaliser to scrape a point against Morocco four years ago in Russia when the teams came to grips in the group stages.

Enrique will feel a sense of complacency has set in after Spain began their World Cup journey emphatically.

Spain followed up their 7-0 thumping of Costa Rica with a 1-1 draw against a struggling Germany.

In their final group match, they lost to Japan. Had Costa Rica managed to hold on to their lead against Germany, Spain would have packed their bags and gone home by now.

So, Spain have little reason to believe they have an easy game awaiting them at the Education City Stadium.

Team News

Yassine Bounou returned underneath the crossbar for Morocco against Canada after missing the Belgium match because of illness.

He should expect to keep his place in the lineup against Spain.

Achraf Hakimi did not take part in full training on Saturday, but his ankle problem is not severe enough to keep him out of the game.

Sofiane Boufal, Hakim Ziyech, and  Sofyan Amrabat should also get recalls, despite skipping training on Saturday.

Luis Enrique allowed Dani Olmo to take a day off after putting in a gruelling shift against Japan. César Azpilicueta also did not train on Friday, but a calf injury forced his absence.

David Raya was also nowhere to be seen in training photos.

However, the Spanish camp did not disclose why their second-choice keeper did not train.

Ferran Torres and Jordi Alba can expect to walk back into the starting XI after Nico Williams and Alejandro Balde failed to convince against the Blue Samurais.

Our Prediction

Morocco have a formidable backline and also the ability to hit Spain on the counter.

We believe the match will end goalless, but Spain’s superior squad depth will help them edge Morocco in extra time.

We believe Spain will nick a 1-0 victory after 120 minutes of football.

Date: 6 December

Kickoff: 8:30 PM IST

Venue: Education City Stadium


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