Spain face Morocco in their final group game as the 2010 World Champions look to fight Portugal for the top spot in Group B with a resounding win.
After their opening group game against Portugal resulted in a draw, Spain bounced back, albeit with difficulty to record a narrow win over Iran the last time out. The Spaniards, however, will have a task against Morocco, as they know they need a resounding victory to keep the goal difference higher than Portugal in the event Iran loses their game against the European Champions.
Morocco, on the other hand, will be hoping to bow out of the tournament with a win over Spain, after being unfortunate in their two opening games so far. After conceding a last-minute own goal against Iran in the first game, they were beaten by Portugal in the second match, but the same scoreline, courtesy a 4th minute Cristiano Ronaldo goal.
Team News & Tactics
Fernando Hierro is unlikely to make any changes to his side, that beat Iran in their last game. There are no changes expected to this squad, but unless the coach decides to a player or to try out a different tactic, we might see a slight shift in the starting lineup.
After getting back into the squad for the Iran game, Dani Carvajal is expected to keep his place against Morocco. If Hierro decides to rest him, he could start Nacho there, who played against Portugal or could give Álvaro Odriozola his World Cup bow.
In attack, Hierro would not want to rest players, despite the team finding it highly challenging to penetrate the Iranian attack. Morocco are just as defensive minded, and for Spain, it will be a tough game, especially their forwards
Probable Starting-XI (4-3-3) – De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Silva, Iniesta; Isco, Vazquez, Costa
Herve Renard has no problems in his squad with injuries or suspensions. Renard would have been disappointed with the lack of fortune in the two games before this and will want to bow out in style, especially with a win over Spain. The reason for not tinkering with his squad despite back to back defeats is the cohesiveness this team has.
Morocco have displayed some strong defensive game in the last two games and the back line led by the experienced Medhi Benatia during the first two games will start again. Nordin Amrabat, who controversially played the game against Portugal, despite suffering a concussion in the game before should now be fit enough to start for Morocco.
Hakim Ziyech will be tasked with the responsibilities in making the team tick in the attack, as Morocco are still looking to score their first goal at the World Cup. If there are to be even the slightest changes, it would be due to some sort of a late injury or change of ideas from Renard.
Potential Starting-XI (4-3-3) – Mohamedi; Dirar, Saiss, Benatia, Hakimi; Boussoufa, El Ahmadi, Belhanda; Ziyech, Boutaib, Amrabat\
- Morocco have been eliminated in four of their five World Cup campaigns including the current one.
- Spain have won three of their four World Cup matches against African opponents.
- Spain only needs a point from this game to guarantee their qualification to the next round.
- Spain, however, have finished as group winners in three of their last four World Cups.
- Morocco, in their last six World Cup defeats, have managed to fire more shots than their oppositions.
Player to Watch
Diego Costa (Spain)
Diego Costa is Spain’s man in form. Having had a reasonably tricky start to life in the Spanish national team back in the 2014 World Cup, Costa has reveled in Russia. Having already scored three goals in two games, he is likely to be in the running to be Spain’s top scorer this World Cup.
On the other hand, he has proven he fits into the creative style of football Spain plays, and his physicality has become a critical factor in the usually nimble Spanish side. He will likely want to add to his tally at the World Cup and keep pace with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the golden boot.
Spain 3-1 Morocco
Spain have the quality in place to beat the likes of Morocco. Spain’s problem has been to penetrate tight defences, and they would be looking to address that issue. On the other hand, there is Diego Costa, who has been in superb form of late and he will likely be looking for more goals before taking the team into the knockouts.
Spain, however, have looked suspect at the back and have afforded their opposition some brilliant chances to score. The more physical defenders of Morocco are likely to take advantage of a set-piece situation and try to score, as well the Africans would not want to bow out of the World Cup without scoring a single goal.