Followers of the FIFA World Cup 2022 enjoyed an exciting weekend of action from the Round of 32, with some big names booking their place in the quarterfinals. The Netherlands was too good for the USA, ending the impressive run of their opponents with a polished and clinical 3-1 victory. Argentina then battled past Australia but was pushed hard by an improving Aussies, eventually winning 2-1. With the strongest teams coming through, we look ahead to another week of drama.
The week began with two matches as Japan played Croatia before Brazil took on South Korea. Tuesday’s programme sees Portugal and Switzerland face off after Morocco meets Spain in what’s sure to be a thriller. Will the Spanish do as expected and join the competition’s biggest teams in the last eight? They are favourites to do so, with many respected pundits expecting a clear win for the former champions. But Morocco can’t be ignored, and Qatar has already taught us to expect the unexpected in this winter World Cup.
The stats show Morocco and Spain have played only once before, with that game played back in June 2018. That match produced four goals, ending in a 2-2 draw at the World Cup. Spain took the lead that day with Isco finding the net inside 20 minutes but needed a late leveller from Iago Aspas with 90 minutes on the clock to finish level. The teams were forced to share that day, but this match will be played to a conclusion with the availability of extra time and penalties. But which side will progress to the next round, and how will they achieve the result? Our team of experts preview.
Morocco unbeaten in three
Morocco has impressed followers in Qatar with their efforts in this competition. They weren’t seen as one of the potential winners before play began last month but were unbeaten in their group stages and have now won the respect of critics. They came through a strong Group F ahead of Croatia in second, with Belgium ending in third, joining Canada on a jet out of the country. Losing Belgium was a major surprise, and it will have lasting effects on the team, but Morocco’s form meant they deserved to go through as winners of the pool.
Their World Cup stats heading into this match show they started with a draw in their opening group game, ending level with Croatia, and that was the launchpad they needed. Morocco then went on to beat Belgium in what ranks as one of the biggest shocks in a competition that has produced more than a few. Needing to win game three to go through, Morocco had no trouble stepping up to secure the points needed to keep their journey alive. Their group stats of two wins and a draw from three games earned Morocco seven points, two more than Croatia and three better than Belgium.
We last saw the African side in action on the opening day of the month when beating Canada 2-1 to send their opponents home. The fate of the Canadians had already been secured, and they knew going through wasn’t an option. But they turned up and made the favourites work hard for the result. In three games, Canada remains the only team to have scored against Morocco, with both Belgium and Croatia drawing a blank. That’s something the Spanish attack will be mindful of ahead of Tuesday’s game.
Spain is looking strong
As you can expect, Spain is one of the biggest names in Qatar and is viewed as a potential champion if they can continue their form in this competition. The Spanish were added to Group E, where they finished as runners-up behind Japan following a mixed bag of results in their three pool matches. Spain won its opening match against Costa Rica – as they were expected to do – but was held to a draw with Germany on matchday two. They then lost to Japan in their final match, but the four points gained were enough to finish in the silver medal position.
Spain was expected to beat Japan, and most pundits had them picked to do just that, but the Blue Samurai has been bold. They have come to the Arab World determined to compete and have already shown us they are capable of holding their own. Spain lost that match, but it was a strange scenario where the result of that game had an impact on Germany’s chances of going through. Defeat isn’t something that sits kindly with the Spaniards, and we’re expecting to see a reaction on Tuesday.
They began with a crushing 7-0 win over Costa Rica but have conceded in their two games since. They also leaked a goal against Jordan in a friendly match designed to keep the players active ahead of this adventure. Looking through their recent results, it’s plain to see that Spain is a great team, one good enough to win this match and the World Cup outright. Their attack is full of flair and excitement, while the midfield is their engine room. But there are leaks in defence that must be addressed if Spain is to go from contenders to champions.
Morocco v Spain prediction
Here we have a meeting of two teams high on confidence and belief that they can win this match and progress to the quarters. Morocco can match their opponents in attack and has been more impressive in defence, too, and that could make the difference. The winner of this game will be the one that performs better at the back.
The stats suggest we are in for another high-scoring match from Qatar, and armchair fans hope the teams deliver. Morocco has been the more exciting and consistent team of the two, but Spain boasts that all-important World Cup winning experience. This should be a competitive match.
World Cup odds
The pre-match betting odds available to all registered members of 22bet have Morocco available at 6.05, with Spain trading at 1.605 and the draw 3.76.
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