The Moroccan national team will have an opportunity to enter history from its widest gates, when it faces its Spanish counterpart today, Tuesday, at the "Education City" stadium, in the price of the 2022 World Cup final held in the State of Qatar, while the second match brings together Portugal and Switzerland at Lusail Stadium.
The Moroccan national team enters its upcoming match with Spain, hoping to continue its strong performances in the World Cup in Qatar, after leading its group in the first round, at the expense of Croatia, Belgium and Canada.
The last training session for the national team before tomorrow's match against Spain
Last training session!
Our Atlas Lions are ready to face Spain 🇪🇸 #DimaMaghrib 🇲🇦 #TeamMorocco #FIFAWorldCup @pumafootball pic.twitter.com/Bwh58Kt43b
- Equipe du Maroc (@EnMaroc) December 5, 2022
In his first match, he imposed a goalless draw on the second-placed Croatia national team in the last edition of the World Cup (2018 in Russia).
In the second, he hit hard and defeated the Belgium national team 2-0, who finished third in the World Cup in Russia, and was a strong candidate to compete for the title in the World Cup in Qatar, given the battalion of stars that it includes.
The "Atlas Lions" achieved a second victory in the third round, at the expense of Canada, 2-1, to take the lead in the group in one of the biggest surprises in the first round of the World Cup, scoring 7 points.
The "Atlas Lions" repeated their feat in 1986 when they became the first Arab and African team to reach the final price of the World Cup, before being knocked out by West Germany 0-1 in the 89th minute, but this time the ambition seems much higher than what happened in Mexico.
The two teams met once in the World Cup, and it was in the last edition when Morocco was just around the corner from achieving victory after advancing 2-1 until the first minute of stoppage time, when the Spaniards equalized through Yago Aspas.
At the time, Morocco was out of the competition by losing its first two matches against Iran and Portugal, with one score 0-1, but this time things look completely different.
The two teams also met in 1961 in the African-European play-off that qualifies for the Chilean version the following year, and Spain won 1-0 in the first leg and 3-2 in the second leg.
Morocco is counting on the experience of its players and their good knowledge of Spanish football, especially Seville goalkeeper Yassin Bono, who won the “Zamora” award for the best goalkeeper in La Liga last season, and his club colleague Youssef Al-Nusairi, along with the promising Barcelona loanee to Asasuna Abdel Samad Al-Zalzouli, and Ashraf Hakimi, who started His football career with Real Madrid, Jawad Al-Yamiq (Valladolid) and second goalkeeper Mounir El-Mohammadi (previously defended the colors of Malaga, Almeria and Numancia).
Yacine Bounou, goalkeeper of the Moroccan national team (French)
In turn, the Spain national team will try to dispel the dull image that appeared on it in the third round of the first round competitions, when it lost to Japan to fall back to second place in the group, and was even close to leaving early according to the accounts of the second match that was taking place at the same time between Germany and Costa Rica.
Before the Morocco match, Spain and Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets denied seeking to choose a specific opponent in the second round to avoid facing Brazil, and said, "We aimed to win. We did not want to choose our (next) opponent."
Busquets explained, "Facing Morocco will not be easy. Things have changed surprisingly. We were at the top of the group, and in moments we were in second place. We have to forget the last match and focus on the next match."
He added, "It will not be an easy task for the Moroccan national team. Most of the players play in European clubs, and their way of playing is very similar to European teams. We must be fully focused."
"The majority of the fans will support them as if the match is at home. It will be a difficult match without any doubt and we are ready for it."
As for coach Luis Enrique, he said, "I am not happy at all. Yes, we qualified, and I was hoping to be in the lead. The Japanese goal upset the match. I do not want to celebrate anything."
Swiss Portuguese Summit
In the second match, Portugal appears on paper as a candidate to overtake Switzerland and reach the quarter-finals, but realizes that the revolting "La Nati" team, which has had surprises against the football giants in recent years, will be a difficult match.
Portugal reached the elimination rounds in Qatar for the fifth time in the World Cup, and its best result remains the third place in the 1966 World Cup in England, and in modern history the fourth place in 2006.
During the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Portugal topped its eighth group after two opening victories over Ghana and Uruguay, before falling in the final confrontation against South Korea after securing its qualification.
Portugal is counting on Ronaldo to overtake Switzerland (Reuters)
Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo made history in the first round when he became the first player to score in 5 versions of the World Cup, with his only goal that came from a penalty kick in a 3-2 win over Ghana in the first match.
On the other hand, Switzerland ranked first in its group behind Brazil, after beating Cameroon and Serbia, in return for losing to Brazil.
And with the World Cup in Qatar reaching its elimination rounds, Switzerland will be in dire need of veteran goalkeeper Jan Sommer, who missed the decisive 3-2 victory over Serbia in the last round in the group stage, due to illness, after his main participation against Brazil and Cameroon.