The motivation and level of focus will be slightly different when Spain takes to the pitch on Monday to battle their nearby neighbors from Morocco.
It has been a wildly disappointing and frustrating tournament for the Moroccans. Many figured they were ready to take that ‘next step’ of showing their might on the world stage, but it just hasn’t materialized. They have lost two tight games, both by 1-nil scores. They outplayed Iran in game one – and lost on an own goal in the final minutes. And against Portugal last week, they again lost 1-0 via a Ronaldo bit of brilliance. They likely deserved better fates in both matches, and despite likely outplaying both Iran and Portugal – the Moroccans have nothing to show for it.
Now with nothing to play for but pride, they’ll battle one of the tournament’s top squads in Spain. The Spaniards have been oddly confusing in two games. They really should be the class of Group B but just haven’t played like it. They battled hard to manage a draw vs. Portugal, and then had to fight hard to hold off Iran in a tight 1-0 victory.
One thing worth noting is that all of Spain, Portugal, and Iran will know who their opponent from Group A would be in the Round of 16. The Group A fixtures will occur at 10AM EST, while the Group B matches will kickoff at 2:00 PM EST. Regardless of that, Spain will undoubtedly be playing for a win against Morocco – despite the fact that a tie would also advance them. Spain knows the benefits of tying the group, and if the earlier games go as predicted – would surely rather take on Russia than the hosts in Uruguay.
Once we enter the final round of group matches, all kinds of scenarios do exist. Please do your homework and research the up-to-date scenarios before placing a wager. Read on below the odds, for a match prediction and betting selection for Spain vs. Morocco.
Spain vs. Morocco Betting Odds:
Over 2.5 (-120)
Under 2.5 (+100)
Spain vs. Morocco Pick:
Morocco rightfully feels hard done by as they enter their final match here at Russia 2018 against a powerful Spain side. Though they will not be moving along, they could really shock the world and play spoiler by defeating Spain. The Spaniards will advance with a win or tie – but I’d expect an open match with both sides taking chances and looking to secure a victory. Spain will want to top Group B, while Morocco thinks they’ve played alright and want to finish by shocking the world in defeating Spain.
Morocco’s manager Herve Renard has looked to spur his team and motivate them by deflecting blame. He has been correct in that his team has played pretty well, there just hasn’t been much finish. Renard has also been heavily critical of the officiating, stating the only reason they lost vs. Portugal was a blatant missed call in the build-up. Again, he is likely correct about that as well. Against Spain, Renard knows his side will be eager to play for their homeland – and despite sporting a stellar defensive record, Morocco will be keen to take chances and get the win.
Spain might not be as aggressive as they usually are, seeing as a point sends them through. Still though, coach Fernando Hierro knows they can’t just sit back and play conservative either. La Roja are often at their best when they can play direct soccer and go at teams. It’s believed Hierro will drop back a player, and revert to a 4-3-3 with Morocco too likely to be more adventurous.
Morocco’s 4-2-3-1 controlled possession and created chances against Portugal – they just couldn’t finish. It’s been a tough run of luck for them, and they’ll be eager to end their tournament on a high note. Hakim Ziyach has been dynamic for the Moroccans, and will be eager to test his skills against the Spaniards. Despite just playing for pride, this is a solid team that can frustrate talented squads defensively, and still put the back in the opposition’s net on the counter.
I’m expecting a thoroughly entertaining game given the narrative entering the match. With the scenarios the way they are, I’d look for Morocco to push the pace in the early going. They are still incredibly solid the back and despite being attack-minded – I can’t see the Moroccans feeling vulnerable in defense despite the Spanish skill. Morocco is a good side despite their results at Russia 2018 and I’d expect they finally find the back of the net. In the end, Spain will get their result to advance – but Morocco will battle for it. I like Morocco to keep things close on the spread.
MY PICK = Morocco +1.5 (-120)