Morocco are the very definition of the outsider. The Moroccan team finished top of Group F by surprise, in front of Belgium and Croatia, who were the expected favourites. They then knocked out Spain in a penalty shootout in the round of 16 against all odds, which sparked crazy celebrations in Morocco and across the
Portugal’s World Cup has started to heat up; after finishing top of Group H, Fernando Santos’ team faced off against Switzerland and beat them convincingly, 6-1, thanks to a hat trick by Gonçalo Ramos, as well as goals from Pepe, Guerreiro and Leao.
Morocco vs Portugal: A new surprise for the Atlas Lions?
Morocco is determined after qualifying against Spain, which put the team at the forefront of world football. They were very strong defensively, and limited Spain’s chances. But their most important achievement is that all of their players have a strong mentality and the necessary skill to uphold it. Portugal are a big opponent for Morocco, who are also feeling confident. They surely can’t… can they?
Face to Face – Morocco vs Portugal: Only 2 previous encounters
This will be the third ever encounter between Morocco and Portugal, the previous two having been in previous World Cups. Morocco won the first encounter during the group stage in 1986 (3-1), before Portugal managed to take the second match 1-0 in the 2018 tournament when the two teams also shared a group.
Morocco – Portugal: minimal changes will be made
We expect few changes for Morocco, but there will be a big absence in the form of central defender Nayef Aguerd. He indeed went off with an injury in the match against Spain – they must have been on the point of giving up. In spite of that, Morocco will likely put out a 4-3-3 formation with Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En Nesyri and Soufiane Boufal as the attacking trio and in the midfield, the talented Sofyan Amrabat who is the subject of plenty of transfer speculation. The back line will be deprived of Aguerd, but will likely count on Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saïss and Noussair Mazraoui.
Portugal will be looking to rest quite a few of the eleven who participated in the 6-1 victory over Switzerland. However, there are choices to be made. Will Otavio be played in the midfield alongside Carvalho or will Cristiano Ronaldo get more game time? However, the defence will likely remain unchanged in Fernando Santos’ 4-3-3. Bruno Fernandes will likely start with Bernardo Silva and Joao Félix.
The keys to the match: Does Morocco have the necessary defensive solidity to deal with Portugal?
The determining aspect of this match will be in the hands of Morocco, because Portugal will undoubtedly be strong offensively. Their control of the play against Spain was perfect. Any sort of result against Portugal will require the same level of engagement in man-marking, in working and in closing the space, particularly in the midfield. Morocco cannot let players like Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes find pockets of space, which makes them dangerous. If they succeed in limiting Portugal’s openings, they may just be capable of creating their own opportunities.
Other predictions worth a shot in this Morocco – Portugal at 4 pm
First of all, we see Portugal winning this match and qualifying for the semi-final. However, we think that Morocco has enough quality and motivation to create problems for the Portuguese defence. For this reason, we can see both teams scoring, here. We also predict that Gonçalo Ramos will continue on the same trajectory after his superb hat trick against Switzerland with another goal against Morocco. We advise, if you want to back Morocco here, to bank on a draw.