logo in purple and white sport preview
Search
Close this search box.
section head logo darkest purple sport preview

Sport Preview: World Cup Quarter-Finals - Sat 10th Dec

World Cup Quarter Finals: Morocco v Portugal

predictions logo accent sport preview

Selections

Morocco vs Portugal: Sat 10th Dec, 3:00pm

Fernando Santos made some huge calls in Portugal’s round-of-16 win over Switzerland.

The 68-year-old, who has been at the helm since 2014, is arguably the country’s most successful coach and he deserves huge credit.

His decision to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench against the Swiss was probably the coaching intervention of the World Cup so far.

Santos also benched Joao Cancelo, favouring Raphael Guerreiro and Diogo Dalot in the full-back positions with Nuno Mendes injured. But it was his decision to include Goncalo Ramos which hit the headlines with the young striker taking centre stage with a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout.

That left Ronaldo to make an impact from the bench, but the game was already in the bag when the 37-year-old arrived and he will likely have to sit and watch from the sidelines on Saturday.

It was a brave and surprising call and one that paid dividends, because Portugal looked transformed in attack with fluidity and poise.

That demolition job on a Swiss side, who had looked as resilient as anyone in the tournament, needs respect.

Despite seeing the Swiss have more possession, Portugal ruthlessly took apart Murat Yakin’s men and had the game won 10 minutes after the break.

Another free-flowing performance could be on the cards against Morocco, who became only the fourth African team to reach a World Cup quarter-final.

Their dramatic win over Spain on penalties has catapulted the Atlas Lions into their first World Cup last eight clash.

It will be a joyous occasion for Morocco, but do they have enough attacking threat to reach the last four? It certainly would appear that Morocco are limited in their attacking threats.

Defensively they have been strong and have conceded the least goals (one) in the tournament. Whether they have enough going forward to trouble Portugal is the big issue.

Their possession count was just 23% against Spain, as they looked to counter Luis Enrique’s men, and they managed that to great effect.

On another day they would have pinched the game in normal time and penalties would not have been required, but a repeat showing seems a big ask.

Amazingly Morocco have scored the fewest goals (four), have the lowest expected goals (3.1), had the fewest shots on target (10), made the fewest touches in the opposition’s box (41) and averaged the lowest possession (32.3%) in the tournament.

In Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, though, they have two world-class players and the pair have dominated Morocco’s stats, but they will need help against Portugal.

Morocco’s approach will be to have what they hold from the kick-off and they have kept seven clean sheets in their last eight games in all competitions, with three of those in Qatar.

But Portugal, who are a general 4/6 to win in 90 minutes, looked reborn last time out and it seems a long shot that Morocco can keep Portugal at bay.

Morocco’s defensive record suggests they will not be taken apart like the Swiss were and it’s been goalless at half-time in three of their four games to date.

So it might be a struggle for Portugal, but expect Santos’ men to grind down their opponents to eventually get the job done.



Share this post

Related articles

Want to read more ?

Featured Posts

Sport Previews

If you’re a sports fanatic, we’ve got the perfect thing for you! Get all the latest tips and stats for Football, UK & Irish Horse Racing, Rugby, Gaa and more.

We’ll keep you up to date with all the latest news and updates, giving you the inside scoop on the hottest games and teams. From the best players to the highest scores, you’ll be sure to have all the info you need to stay ahead of the game.

Get ready to get your game on!