Prediction: Portugal to win to nil
Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to continue his excellent form at the World Cup as he leads Portugal in their second group game against Morocco on Wednesday afternoon.
The Real Madrid superstar will be looking forward to a first win at the tournament, edging his team closer to qualification to the next round as they take on bottom-of-the-group Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium.
What a start Portugal had to their campaign in Russia. Taking on the 2010 world champions, the Seleccao battled to a 3-3 draw with Ronaldo netting a late free-kick to secure a point. Fernando Santos’ men could potentially have been slightly disappointed however considering they held a 2-1 lead going into half-time. Despite that, the result did extend the country’s impressive recent record. Under Santos, the reigning European champions have only lost one out of their last 13 games, a record they will be keen to extend as they take on Morocco and Iran in their next two fixtures.
On the other hand, they have now only won one out of their last five games, that being a 3-0 thumping of Algeria before they departed for Russia. That may not faze the country though as they only managed to win one game within 90 minutes at the 2016 Euros but still managed to lift the trophy.
With Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal always have a chance. His hat-trick against Spain took the Real Madrid superstar’s record to an eye-watering 23 goals in his last 18 games for his country since the start of World Cup qualification. Elsewhere, the Portuguese do not have any injury concerns to worry about.
Hervé Renard’s men were widely-criticised following their 1-0 loss to Iran last time out. There were numerous opinions that Morocco were simply too defensive and a late own-goal from Aziz Bouhaddouz condemned them to defeat in what was arguably their easiest group game at the World Cup. They now have a huge task to get anything out of Portugal and Spain if they hope to qualify for the knockout rounds. Morocco’s recent record could provide them with some solace however. Before their defeat to Iran, they had previously gone 18 games unbeaten. As a matter of fact, they also have a relatively productive record against European sides. The country have not lost to a side from Europe since a 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands in May 2017.
Renard has two injuries to contend with for the clash against Portugal. Watford winger Nordin Amrabat suffered a blow to the head against Iran so could be ruled out with concussion. Meanwhile, Nabil Dirar is struggling with a calf strain so might also be consigned to the sidelines.
Key Facts To Consider
- Portugal lost in the only previous clash between the two at the 1986 World Cup with a 3-1 defeat
- Morocco have only won two World Cup games out of their last 14
- Portugal have only won one out of their last six World Cup games
- Cristiano Ronaldo has netted 23 goals in his last 18 games for Portugal
- Portugal are currently three World Cup games unbeaten. The last time they went four unbeaten was in 2006 when they reached the semi-finals.
It really does look a momentous task for Morocco to get anything out of Portugal considering their poor start to the tournament. The Selecao’s quality both in defence and in attack should be far too much for Morocco to deal with. It is extremely difficult to envisage them even troubling Portugal’s goal. The game should end comfortably in the favour of Fernando Santos’ troops.
Prediction: Portugal to win to nil
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