World Cup 2022: Morocco eliminates Spain and goes to the quarter-finals



History at the end of the suspense: Morocco surprised Spain on penalties (0-0, 3 penalties to 0) Tuesday, December 6 in the 2022 World Cup, and rallies for the first time the quarters of final of the competition. With a sumptuous panenka, Achraf Hakimi, who was born and raised in the southern suburbs of Madrid, concluded the superb performance of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who has played for ten years in Spain and who was impassable during the penalty shoot-out at the aim.

The Atlas Lions had never reached the quarter-finals of a World Cup. Before Monday, their best result in football’s premier competition was in 1986, when they reached the round of 16. Last African selection still in the running, Morocco will have the opportunity to join the last four on Saturday (4:00 p.m.) against Portugal or Switzerland, who face each other on Tuesday evening (8:00 p.m.).

A sterile Spanish base on the game

At the Education City Stadium in Doha, the long-awaited opposition in style took place between Spain, their short passing game, and Morocco, their counterattacks and their victories based on an excellent defense, the best of the tournament (a only goal conceded). And in this game, it is the style of play of the Atlas Lions which has long seemed the most capable of winning his team, in front of the Moroccan supporters, who are much more numerous than those of Spain.

“They have 70% possession on average, even having faced Germany or Francehad also analyzed before the match Walid Regragui, the coach of Morocco. Possession, they will have it, we have to accept it. But Japan won (against Spain, 2-1) with 17% possession, and won with 20% possession against Germany (2-1). »

On Tuesday, La Roja had possession, in the proportions predicted by Regragui, but did not manage to break the Moroccan lock, often losing themselves in sequences of long possessions and side passes. Worse, Spain only scored two shots, one less than the Moroccans, before the penalty shootout, a lottery they would have liked to avoid.

Second early elimination at Worlds

For La Roja, history repeats itself: the 2010 world champions had already been knocked out by a team within their reach, Russia, during the 2018 World Cup. The Spanish coach Luis Enrique had however foreseen this scenario by asking his players to prepare for the exercise. “They had to arrive with at least a thousand penalties taken with their clubsEnrique explained at a press conference on Monday. There will surely be a knockout match where we will have to go through a penalty shootout. » Enrique had also displayed his confidence in his “three very good goalkeepers”including the titular Unai Simon.

But it was Bounou, the goalkeeper of Sevilla FC, who took the light at the end of the match, stopping two shots on goal, from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets, while that of Pablo Sarabia had hit the post.

He confirmed what seems obvious after the fight won against Spain: Morocco has the best defense in the competition, which no opposing player has yet deceived. Only the central defender Nayef Aguerd deceived, despite himself, his goalkeeper against Canada (2-1). The attackers of Portugal and Switzerland are warned.

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