One of the final matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s first knockout round is an intriguing one. Morocco vs Spain is a match that pits a European powerhouse against an African side that’s overcome all expectations.
While many expect Spain to overpower their Moroccan counterparts, Walid Redragui’s side is ready to put up a strong resistance. Meanwhile, Spain are still licking their wounds after South Korea pulled off another comeback win in a World Cup full of shockers.
This OKBET prediction piece will look into the two squads ahead of the contest, the possible results of the game, and the odds you can bet on ahead of the match.
Spain: Bouncing Back After a Surprise Loss
La Furia Roja are expected to make a deep run in the knockout stages. Many thought they’d finish at the top of Group E, with Germany the only opponent worth worrying about.
They lived up to their name after dismantling Costa Rica, 7-0. They tried to book their ticket against Germany. Still, Die Mannschaft were adamant about preventing a repeat of their disappointing collapse against Japan to finish the game in a 1-1 draw.
Luis Enrique’s side were heavy favorites coming into the final game against Japan. Alvaro Morata’s goal in the 10th minute looked to seal their place as Group E winners. A comeback for the ages followed as the Samurai Blue scored two goals to finish the game as 2-1 winners at the top. Fortunately, Spain beat Germany to the runners-up spot on goal difference.
The Spaniards need to be at their best if they want the Atlas Lions to avoid pulling a fast one on them. Alvaro Morata will be the biggest key to their attack: the former Chelsea man scored a goal in every game he’s played, easily meeting his 1.2 xG in the process.
Their defense must also prevent any goalscoring threat from an in-form Morocco side. Gavi, Rodri, and Cesar Azpilicueta will need to be in top shape to secure their spot in the quarterfinals.
Morocco: Surprise Winners Look to Extend Their Run
The Atlas Lions are in football nirvana after topping a group with Belgium and Croatia. However, they understand that an even tougher test is in store and must focus on getting the win.
Morocco showcased their grit after holding the 2018 World Cup runners-up to a scoreless draw. They followed it up with a statement win over Belgium with goals from Romain Saiss Zakaria Aboukhlal. They finished the group stage with a steady 2-1 over Canada to top their group.
At the heart of their team are Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech. Their performances have been essential throughout the group stage. Hakimi has been a solid stalwart on defense with his ten tackles won, three blocks, and five interceptions through the group stage. Ziyech also dominated with his eight score-creating actions and seven successful dribbles.
Their defense will be in for a long night, as Spain made 12 shot attempts through the group stage. Through three games, they also monopolized possession with 77% and a 91% pass rate. Given how little possession the Atlas Lions managed to secure during the group stages, their top priority will be keeping Morata and the rest of the Spanish attack from goal.
Morocco vs Spain Predictions
Most football analysts see this as an easy Spanish win. La Furia Roja have too many quality players to stumble this early in the knockout rounds. It won’t be strange to expect more production from Morata and the rest of Spain’s front attack as they look to bounce back from Japan.
However, expect Morocco to put up a serious fight. They showcased their ability to fight back against European powerhouses in the group stage and have the potential to pull off an upset. The Atlas Lions will hope for Hakimi and Ziyech to pull off more magic to advance past Spain.
Given the forms of the two teams coming into the game, Spain should be able to squeak past Morocco in a 2-1 win.
Morocco vs Spain Betting Odds
The bet experts at OKBET are also looking favorably towards Spain to advance.
|Goals O/U 2/2.5
|Goals O/U Half 0.5/1
With eye-popping 5.60 1X2 odds, Morocco are heavy underdogs to snag a win against Spain. The Over/Under market also sees this as a low-scoring affair, considering how defensive Morocco will play and how dulled Spain’s attack was during the group stages.
Read more: FIFA World Cup 2022: How Did the AFC Fare?