Given that Portugal, like in 2014, faced a strong team first up, it’s only reasonable to focus considerably on their subsequent match against Morocco. As much as the nation is revered for its wonderful talents in recent year, their World Cup record doesn’t match the hype. Their group stage exits in 2014 and 2002 were largely unexpected, and after a draw against Spain they need to respond swiftly against Morocco to ensure they avoid another underwhelming exit.
Soccer World Cup Portugal vs Morocco Prediction
Morocco enter the tournament in sublime form; their last international defeat took place a year ago in a 1-0 defeat to Cameroon, and their last competitive defeat was in an African Cup of Nations quarterfinal exit to Egypt in January 2017. A critical caveat, of course; Portugal will be the first top 10 FIFA ranked side Morocco have faced since playing the Netherlands in May 2017.
Their final squad drew some curious glances. Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal was omitted due to a lack of playing time following a dispute with manager Mark Hughes. 17 players of the final 23 were born outside the North African country. Several talented young prospects were drafted including Malaga’s Youssef En Nesyri (21), Feyenoord’s Sofyan Amrabat (21), Schalke’s Amine Harit (20), Caen’s Youssef Ait Bennasser (21), Real Madrid’s Achraf Hakimi (19), and Lille’s Hamza Mendyl (20).
Moroccan coach Herve Renard is no stranger to African international competition, having won two African Cup of Nations titles with different teams, including unfancied Zambia. Stylistically, Morocco are a typical offshoot of his idealogy, playing with caution, prioritizing discipline in defence and favouring incisive counter attacks through their flair players, especially Hakim Ziyech and Younes Belhanda. Morocco have switched up between 4231, 433, 4141 and various 3-at-the-back combinations, and their squad and Renard’s ingenuity typically means they’re comfortable with experimentation in such respects. Veteran El Ahmadi is a core feature of the midfield with Bennasser and Amrabat offering cover, and the attacking talents of Harit, Amrabat and Carcela offer additional support off the bench.
Portugal’s preference for counter attacking will be under the scope against Morocco and with a draw agianst Spain are in need of a win to progress. The Iberians are capable of playing to dominate the ball, but that isn’t their preference and it may expose their lack of pace at centre back, unless coach Fernando Santos has rung the changes by that point.
- Jekyll and Hyde? In 2018 friendlies, Morocco scored two thirds of their goals in the first half of matches. In the 2018 African Cup of Nations, over three quarters of their goals were scored in the final half hour of matches.
Match Facts & Summary
|World Cup Base||Moscow||Voronezh|
|Odds – Result||Win – 0.66||Draw – 2.63||Win – 4.61|
|2018 Form (most recent first)||WDDLW||WWDWWWWDWW|
|2014 World Cup Finish||Group Stage (3rd)||Did Not Qualify|
|Total Head to Head Record (includes friendlies)||1 Win|
|Head to Head (Competitive Matches Only)||1 Win|
Renard’s team is capable of an upset, and they’ve got enough attacking weapons on their side to hurt Portugal. The Portuguese team has considerable ambitions however, and there’s a defensive solidity that has emerged in competitive fixtures which will serve Ronaldo and his teammates well. Portugal have a travel advantage given the match’s location in Moscow, from which they are based, and even with their new crop of talents drafted into this squad, there’s considerable experience to draw from including a number of players who were also in the historic EURO 2016 winning squad. The quality of their team should make the difference in an important win.
* Please note – odds mentioned above are subject to change, so always check the latest published odds to be fully certain before betting.
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