The second game of the Cup’s Group B pitted Portugal against Spain. Exciting and suspenseful, the game ended in a 3-3 tie after Cristiano Ronaldo, who had an amazing performance, scored his third goal. Late in the game, with Spain leading 3-2, Ronald evened the score with a perfect 88th-minute free kick.
As a result of the tie between Spain and Portugal, Iran has now taken first place in Group B.
So, what are the chances of Morocco qualifying for the next round?
Even though Morocco lost their first match, they demonstrated a very good offensive game, dominating possession of the ball. The Lions had many occasions to score but weren’t able to take advantage of them. The Iranian soccer team can thank their goalkeeper for an excellent save against Hakim Ziyech’s shot on target.
Morocco’s loss was at least partly due to the team’s lack of experience in big tournaments. Throughout the game, the Moroccan team made numerous mistakes in their passes and in maintaining control of the ball.
In the later match opposing Portugal and Spain, we saw an extraordinary Cristiano Ronaldo leading his team. During the first half, Portugal’s aggressive defense disrupted the “tiki taka” tactic used by the Spanish team to maintain possession of the ball. However, this approach quickly exhausted the Portuguese team.
The Spanish team’s strengths were on display in their match against Portugal, and the Moroccan team would be well advised to take these strengths into consideration when they face off against Spain on June 25th.
The Spanish are a collective in which no individual player dominates the others. Their unique playing style is characterized by rapid passes. Prior to the World Cup, there was some uncertainty surrounding their striker, Diego Costa. However, he had a very strong performance and managed to score two goals. On the other hand, David De Gea, the Spanish goalkeeper, made a huge mistake on the second goal conceded to Portugal, which may have rattled his confidence.
Despite this surprising first day, all is not lost for the Moroccan team. Qualifying for the next round is possible but will be difficult. There are still two more games to play: against Portugal next Wednesday and against Spain the following Monday. The Lions can go on to the next round if they manage to claim victory in both of these upcoming matches.
Against Portugal, Morocco will need a flawless performance from Mehdi Benatia to defend against Ronaldo – when Ronaldo is held in check, Portugal is not the same team. Morocco must make the most of all their scoring opportunities, especially because they will likely have far fewer of them in the next two games than they had against Iran.
On the 25th, the Lions will need to play an aggressive defense to disrupt Spain’s strategy, and they will need to focus on counterattacking to have a chance at a successful result.