FIFA World Cup 2022 Quarter Final : Portugal vs Morocco Match Preview and Lineups

Portugal vs Morocco
SCHEDULE TIME
GAME Portugal vs Morocco
DATE 10/12/2022
TIME 08:30 PM (Indian Standard Time)
ARENA Al Thumama Stadium
LEAGUE FIFA World Cup 2022
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FULL TIME
Portugal [0-1] Morocco

Match Preview of Portugal vs Morocco

As the field continues to narrow and the World Cup trophy comes closer into sight, trailblazers Morocco meet quarter-final opponents Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.

Now set to battle it out for a place in the final four, the Atlas Lions held off Spain before emphatically winning on penalties to reach this stage for the first time, while the Selecao were a side transformed as they slayed Switzerland in the last 16.

Assuring hero status forever more, Achraf Hakimi applied the most delicate of finishing touches to Morocco's defensive masterclass on Tuesday, as his 'Panenka' penalty condemned Spain to a 3-0 shootout defeat and sent the North African nation through to the quarter-finals.

Having battled hard to resist the Spanish 'death by a thousand passes' approach, Walid Regragui's side had sacrificed the bulk of possession to grind out a goalless draw and set the stage for a spectacular finale, during which goalkeeper Yassine Bounou saved two spot-kicks and joined Hakimi as an eternal icon in Rabat, Marrakech and beyond.

Becoming just the fourth African side to reach the last eight at a World Cup - and the first for 12 years - sent a packed Education City Stadium wild, as it was largely populated by Moroccan fans whose fervour has proved such a prominent feature of these finals.

The Atlas Lions' only previous appearance in the last 16 came back in 1986, and Regragui's men have not only broken new ground for their nation but also the Arab world. In the process, they extended an unbeaten run in the World Cup to five matches and kept a remarkable sixth clean sheet from their last seven outings.

With the quality and commitment of Hakimi, fellow full-back Noussair Mazraoui, plus their centre-backs and tireless midfield anchor Sofyan Amrabat, a Morocco squad drawn partly from the diaspora have developed into one of international football's meanest defensive units.

Fending off members of the European establishment such as Croatia and Belgium also saw them finish first in Group F earlier on in the campaign, so tackling Portugal should hold no fears for the quarter-finals' outsiders.

Rewarded for asserting his authority by benching Portugal's iconic captain, Fernando Santos enjoyed perhaps his greatest triumph since 2016's European Championship success this week, when the Selecao stormed past Switzerland and into the last eight of Qatar 2022.

A far more mobile and proactive attack was the result of dropping ageing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and his replacement - Benfica starlet Goncalo Ramos - was certainly up to the task of replacing the dethroned king.

Our Predicted Lineups

Portugal possible starting lineup:Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; B. Silva, Carvalho, Otavio; Fernandes, Ramos, Felix

Morocco possible starting lineup: starting lineup:Bounou; Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal

Who will win the match?

We say: Morocco 0-1 Portugal. When these nations last locked horns at the World Cup finals, Morocco emerged 3-1 victors back in 1986, but some 36 years later the scoreline could be very different. Even the Atlas Lions' fierce defensive commitment surely cannot keep one of the tournament's most potent teams at bay for 120 minutes, and one of Portugal's cast of rising stars - or perhaps even a wily old head - will find a way to seal a spot in the semi-finals.

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