On Tuesday afternoon at the Education City Stadium, Morocco and Spain will face off in the second-to-last match in the round of 16. La Roja came in second in Group E, tying them with their African rivals, who won Group F after beating Croatia and Belgium.
Match Preview: Morocco vs Spain
Morocco capitalized on Belgium’s underperformance and Croatia’s inconsistency to finish top in Group F with seven points from nine.
Even after a goalless draw with Croatia, Walid Regragui’s squad won Belgium and Canada to become one of two African teams in the World Cup’s final 16.
Hakim Ziyech capitalized on Milan Borjan’s mistake to chip the Canucks goalie in the fourth minute. After a Nayef Aguerd own goal gave Canada hope, Youssef En-Nesyri added the final flourish.
However, the Atlas Lions hung on for the three points that would take them through to the knockout rounds as group winners. After being ousted in the 1986, Morocco’s second appearance in the knockout stages.
Surging on the back of an unbeaten streak of eight games across all competitions, during which they have only conceded two goals, With Regragui at the helm, these guys want to make Morocco great again. team to reach the quarterfinals and equal continental history, as only Cameroon’s five World Cup undefeated runs between 1982 and 1990 were longer.
On the last matchday of Group E, Alvaro Morata’s 11th-minute opening against Hajime Moriyasu and his great recurrent subs were not enough for Luis Enrique’s team to hold on to a one-goal advantage.
Three minutes after the restart, Ritsu Doan’s long-range shot went past Unai Simon’s hands to equalize, and three minutes later, Ao Tanaka scored the winner after Kaoru Mitoma barely kept the ball in play.
The scoreboard in the upper left corner was the only statistic counted as Spain slid to second in Group E and only beat Germany on goal difference.
La Roja would have faced Croatia in the final 16 if they had won the section, so coming second may seem like a gift in disguise, but Enrique knows how tough Tuesday’s encounter would be.
Spain was ousted from the 2018 World Cup in the final 16, although they had the joint-highest number of goals in the group stage with England.
Four years after meeting in the group stages in Russia, Morocco and Spain will meet again at the World Cup at the Education City Stadium. La Roja was thankful to a late Iago Aspas equalizer in a 2-2 draw.
Team News: Morocco vs Spain
Despite feeling sick just before Morocco’s victory over Belgium, starting goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou was able to play the entire 90 minutes against Canada and should start again..
Although right defender Achraf Hakimi (who set up En-goal Nesyri’s with a beautiful assist) is likely to be passed fit, he was one of many PSG players who were held out of full practice on Saturday due to ankle injuries.
The names Ziyech, Sofyan Amrabat, and Sofiane Boufal were also recognized some time off, but there is no reason to believe they won’t get the go-ahead for Tuesday’s game.
On the other hand, Enrique did not have Dani Olmo, David Raya, or Cesar Azpilicueta for Spain’s training session on Friday. However, it is thought that Olmo was just rested after an extended group stage.
Although Azpilicueta (who was substituted at halftime against Japan due to a calf injury) is doubtful to start, and the reasons for Raya’s absence remain unclear, Simon was always anticipated to be given the gloves despite his mistake in the previous match.
Even though Enrique used Nico Williams and Alejandro Balde, two young players, in the first game against Japan, This knockout round should see Ferran Torres and Jordi Alba back in the starting lineup.
- Morocco Possible Starting Lineup Options: Hakimi, Saiss, Bono, Aguerd, Mazraoui, Ounahi, Sahiri, En-Nesyri, Boufal, Ziyech, Amrabat.
- Spain Possible Starting Lineup: Carvajal, Rodri, Simon, Laporte, Alba, Busquets, Pedri, Gavi, Morata, Olmo, Torres.
Prediction: Morocco 1-2 Spain
Morocco has to draw on all of its previous defensive resiliency to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in its history. Meanwhile, Regragui’s attackers may take heart from La Roja’s defensive vulnerabilities against Japan.
When on, Spain is a devastating force in the last third, and Enrique’s squad has a bevy of offensive alternatives off the bench in case the two sides are still knotted up after 90 minutes.