After their incredibly defensive exploits on the road to their shock Euro 2016 win, many expected Portugal to come into this tournament with the same negative outlook on the beautiful game. It turns out that many were wrong though, and instead they served up the most thrilling match of the World Cup so far.
Back on matchday two of the 2018 World Cup Portugal faced off with Iberian rivals Spain in the tournament’s first heavyweight clash, and things got off to a flyer as Cristiano Ronaldo netted a penalty just four minutes into the game.
The drama was only just beginning though, with Diego Costa equalising 20 minutes later before Ronaldo put Portugal back ahead just before the break. Another equaliser from Costa and a stunning strike from Nacho put Spain back in control, but Ronaldo’s show wasn’t over yet. Two minutes from time Ronaldo stepped up to a dead ball just outside the penalty area before striking it into the top corner past a stranded David De Gea.
That 3-3 draw will have undoubtedly given them confidence, and they go into this match as heavy favourites in our heads. Ronaldo is confident in his abilities at the worst of times, but after a hat trick took his tally to an incredible 84 goals in 151 appearances he will be itching to get back out there. The Real Madrid man has had another excellent season, so backing him to find the net against Morocco looks a great choice for our anytime goalscorer predictions.
Morocco didn’t play too badly in their opener, but it’s not the performance that counts. Despite having many of the best chances they eventually lost the game thanks to a very late own goal against an Iran side who looked lacklustre going forward. This put an end to Morocco’s 18 match unbeaten streak, a run which had lasted over a year.
To be fair, Morocco’s opposition during this run weren’t exactly up to Portugal’s standards. Fernando Santos may not have seen his side take all three points, but that was never a likelihood against Spain and to perform the way that they did was impressive enough. Despite this, the bookies have given us rather generous odds to consider. We think backing a Portugal Win looks the best value for money here.
We’re also expecting goals. For all of the excitement Ronaldo brought to the table, Portugal’s ageing defence were exposed far too much. Morocco have every chance of getting on the scoresheet, so a Portugal Win and Over 2.5 Goals looks a good choice here, along with a 3-1 correct score predictions.
Portugal Predicted Lineup: Patricio, Soares, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro, Silva, Moutinho, Carvalho, Fernandes, Guedes, Ronaldo
Morocco Predicted Lineup: Mohamedi, Amrabat, Benatia, Saiss, Hakimi, Boussoufa, Ahmadi, Ziyech, Belhanda, Harit, Kaabi
The only previous meeting between these nations was back in the 1986 World Cup, with Morocco winning that game 3-1 and claiming their first ever World Cup win in the process.
Portugal are expected to field the same lineup as they did against Spain, although Andre Silva will be hoping to replace Goncalo Guedes as Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike partner.
Morocco aren’t expected to make any major changes to the squad despite losing the opening game, with Ayoud El Kaabi retaining his place up front ahead of the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Younes Belhanda, and Amine Harit.