Morocco and Spain will today battle it out for a place in the World Cup last 16. Where is the value in the betting? Read on to inform your World Cup 2022 predictions.
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Host Gareth Wheeler is joined once more by Jake Osgathorpe, Andrew Beasley and Simon Edwards to review the World Soccer Cup 2022 Group Stage and look ahead to the last 16 ties.
Morocco capable of claiming Spain scalp
This is just the second time that Morocco have made it to the knockout stages of a World Cup and they will believe they can make history against Spain.
Walid Regragui’s men were unbeaten on their run to topping Group F, with two wins and a draw, and confidence will be high going into Tuesday’s clash at 16:00 (CET) in Al Rayyan.
It’s now eight internationals without defeat for Morocco, during which time they have conceded just two goals and are ranked 22nd in the world.
Morocco’s squad has several players based in Europe’s top leagues, including their maIn attacking stars - Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri, and Zakaria Aboukhlal of Toulouse.
Spain are currently 15 places above their rivals but their form has not been quite as impressive, having lost two of their last six matches.
Their latest defeat came against Japan in their final group game and some will remain concerned that they are relying on veteran Álvaro Morata to deliver goals.
The 2010 world champions scored seven in their opening win over Costa Rica and their possession stats make impressive reading – having 83% against Costa Rica and Japan and 65% in the draw with Germany.
They are likely to see plenty of the ball again on Tuesday, but they will need to nullify the pace and power of an energetic Morocco squad.
Morocco vs. Spain: Team news
Luis Enrique’s biggest decision will be whether to start with Morata or Ferran Torres up front, as part of an attacking trio.
Walid Regragui’s men were unbeaten on their run to topping Group F.
César Azpilicueta started the last game at right-back but was replaced by Dani Carvajal, who looks likely to be given that role on Tuesday.
As for Morocco, they are expected to stick with the same line-up that started their final group game win over Canada, with a 4-3-3 formation.
That would mean Ziyech and En-Nesyri will likely be joined by former Southampton man Sofiane Boufal in a three-pronged attack.
Morocco vs. Spain predictions
The fact that Spain coach Enrique has had his players practicing penalties in the last few days suggests that he feels this will be a close encounter.
Morocco, though, believe they can win, with wing-back Achraf Hakimi – who was born in Madrid – confident that they can progress.
Hakimi insisted in a press conference: “It doesn't matter who we are up against. We are going to play our way and try to beat them.”
It looks likely to be that tight again and it would not be a surprise to see this go all the way to extra-time and potentially penalties.
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