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World Cup Previews: Morocco vs Portugal | Mind Games In The Quarter Final

Can the Moroccan dream continue? A Fernando Santos masterclass? Will Ronaldo distract?

Morocco v Portugal: Quarter Final - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

When Portugal and Morocco walk out onto the Al Thumama Stadium pitch, they will both be looking to win the match and continue to extend their dream. Portugal are looking to reach the semi finals for their third time whereas Morocco are already further than they have ever been in the tournament.

Portugal arrive at the game on the back of a comprehensive thumping of Switzerland. The Portuguese controlled the game from start to finish and had scored six goals by the end of the match.

The Game

  • Date: Saturday, December 10
  • Kickoff Time: 7:00 am MT / 10:00 am ET / 3:00 pm GMT
  • Location: Al Thumama Stadium
  • Match Officials: Referee: Facundo Tello (ARG), Assistant Referee 1: Ezequiel Brailovsky (ARG), Assistant Referee 2: Gabriel Chade (ARG)
  • How To Watch: TV and streaming info via Live Soccer TV
Aerial Views Of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Venues Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Predicted Line-ups

Portugal Starting 11 (4-3-3): Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Otavio, Carvalho, Bernardo; Fernandes, Ramos, Felix.

Bench: Patricio, Sa, Antonio Silva, Cancelo, Neves, Palhinha, Nunes, Vitinha, Mario, Horta, Leao, Ronaldo, Andre Silva.

Portugal have no fresh injury concerns coming into this match. Diogo Jota and Nuno Mendes will play no part in the rest of the tournament. The one hope is that Danilo recovers from broken ribs which he suffered in training before the tournament even started.

The other big question is whether Ronaldo plays any part in the match. After being benched by Fernando Santos against the Swiss, there has been much speculation about the role that CR7 will play moving forward. Fernando Santos has been very vocal in his support for Ronaldo and has been putting water on the flames of discontent that has been reported by the media.

“He has never told me that he wanted to leave the national team. It is time we stopped with this conversation and the controversies. He celebrated all the goals that we scored. It is time for you to leave Ronaldo alone in acknowledgement of what he did for Portuguese football,”

Interesting that he said that we should acknowledge what he DID for Portuguese football. So the benching will continue?

Morocco v Spain: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Tnani Badreddine/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Morocco Starting 11 (4-3-3): Bounou; Hakimi, El Yamiq, Benoun, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.

Bench: Munir, Tagnaouti, Dari, Allah, Jabrane, Sabiri, El Khannouss, Abde, Zaroury, Aboukhlal, Cheddira, Hamdallah.

Morocco required a monumental effort to overcome Spain. Both Sofiane Boufal and Nayef Aguerd were both substituted after injuries. There will be greater worries for Boufal as he has been excellent throughout the tournament and would be a huge gap for the Atlas Lions to fill.

The continued absence of Amine Harit, who was ruled out before the tournament, has clearly impacted Morocco’s ability to score goals which will be critical for their future success.

Final Thoughts

Bring on the battle of the green and red! Portugal and Morocco have met twice before in the World Cup. The first was in 1986 when Morocco won 3-1 in the group stage on their way to a round of 16 elimination. The Portuguese were sent home in the group stage. Their last meeting was in Russia in the group stage and it was Ronaldo scoring the only goal to secure the victory. In the end, the teams reversed their outcome with Portugal going through to round of 16 and Morocco going home.

Portugal v Morocco: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

This should be another game like the quarter final match between Brazil and Croatia. Total determination and both teams putting themselves on the line to win. Portugal will be trying to give Ronaldo a World Cup title, Morocco will try to become the first African country to reach the top four.

Portugal has the pedigree, Morocco have momentum on their side. They have already won a group with two European teams and they dispatched Spain in the last round. The Portuguese should win with the quality in their team but Brazil has gone home, so why not Portugal...... The problem is that Portugal going home is not what should happen!

Prediction: Portugal 2-1 Morocco