This is not a matchup many expected to happen for more than one reason. The first is that Spain were tipped by most to top Group E, thus going into the other side of the draw, something that was backed even more after their 7-0 win over Costa Rica to start the World Cup. However, that has been their only victory in Qatar so far.
La Roja followed the thrashing with a draw against Germany, which may have been expected, but were still in control of the group going into the final game. All Luis Enrique’s men needed to do to finish top was avoid defeat to Japan, but their 1-0 half-time lead ended with a 2-1 defeat and they were overtaken by their opponents. However, some will believe that result worked out better for Spain as they will now avoid Brazil until the final instead of likely having to play them in the quarter-finals.
The second reason nobody expected this matchup is because no one tipped Morocco to win Group F – in fact, hardly anybody will have backed them to get out of the group. Morocco were placed in Group F alongside Belgium, Croatia and Canada, and the European sides were expected to be one and two respectively. But Morocco had other plans.
In their first game, Morocco frustrated Croatia and came away with a goalless draw for which they were praised, but then came their big result – a 2-0 win over Belgium thanks to second-half goals from Romain Saiss and Zakaria Aboukhlal. That victory put Morocco in firm control of their own destiny and a 2-1 win over Canada, combined with Croatia and Belgium drawing, meant they topped the group.
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Morocco vs Spain match stats
Alvaro Morata gets a lot of criticism for his lack of goalscoring prowess compared to the best strikers in the world, but he constantly comes up trumps for Spain and it’s no different in Qatar. The Atletico Madrid striker has scored in all three of Spain’s games so far despite playing just 126 minutes, with only Marcus Rashford scoring three in less time (107 minutes) — and only Kylian Mbappe scoring more (five).
Spain may have kept a clean sheet in their opening game against Costa Rica, but La Roja have struggled for concentration in defence which has led to them conceded three goals. In just three minutes against Japan, Spain conceded twice having been rocked defensively while trying to play the ball out from the back.