World Cup 2022 Football

World Cup 2022: Morocco vs Spain predicted lineups

morocco manager
DOHA - Coach Hoalid Regragui during a press conference of the Moroccan national team at the media center on December 5, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. Morocco will meet Spain in the round of 16. ANP KOEN VAN WEEL - Photo by Icon sport

Spain face Morocco on Tuesday afternoon in the penultimate round of 16 fixtures of this year’s World Cup. In an unlikely turn of events, Morocco go into the game after topping their group while Spain finished runners-up to Japan. 

While Spain go into the match at the Education City Stadium as strong favourites, Morocco will fancy their chances after a strong group stage which saw them go unbeaten. Spain, on the other hand, were just 20 minutes away from exiting the competition altogether during a dramatic final round of Group E fixtures. 

The winners of the tie will go on to face the winners of Portugal vs Switzerland, which takes place just a few hours after the completion of this game. 

Team news

Spain

Spain have been one of the most consistent teams in the tournament in terms of personnel and formation. Luis Enrique favours a 4-3-3 regardless of the opposition meaning you can almost certainly expect his side to line up in this formation for Tuesday’s clash. 

Rodri is expected to partner Laporte at the back, while Carvajal and Alba are expected to come back in for Azpilicueta and Balde who played during the 2-1 defeat to Japan. Azpilicueta, the captain, may well have been in with a shout of starting the game but he was taken off early against Japan and is an injury doubt for this one. 

The midfield picks itself with the Barcelona trio of Busquets, Gavi and Pedri expected to commence the carousel of passing once the whistle goes on Tuesday afternoon. However, the forward trio is somewhat of a selection headache for Garcia. One of Torres, Morata, Olmo and Asensio will miss out, despite all four enjoying a decent tournament so far. 

Another potential sticking point for Garcia is the goalkeeper. While Simon has played every minute so far, there have been plenty of shaky moments for the Athletic Bilbao stopper. It would be a bold move to change his number-one goalkeeper at this point of the competition, but we wouldn’t rule it out. 

luis enrique
Spain’s head coach Luis Enrique Martinez addresses a press conference at the Press Center in Doha, Qatar, 05 December 2022. Spain is facing Morocco on 06 December in their round-of-16th match within Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Efe/ABACAPRESS.COM//JuanJo Martin – Photo by Icon sport

Morocco

Morocco’s main concern ahead of the fixture will be the fitness of Achraf Hakimi. The PSG fullback, who was born in Spain, has been nursing an ankle issue and wasn’t risked in training over the weekend. However, it would be a big surprise if he didn’t play on Tuesday afternoon given his importance to the side. 

Goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou, has seemingly come through his health issues after dropping out of their encounter with Belgium at the last minute and is a shoo-in to start between the sticks. 

At the other end of the pitch, Walid Regragui will be hoping that the likes of Ziyech and Boufal can keep up their scintillating form and catch Spain out on the counter attack. If they play like they have been doing, then there is every chance that Morocco can spring an upset and progress through to the next round.

Predicted lineups

Spain

Simon, Carvajal, Rodri, Laporte, Alba, Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Asensio, Morata, Torres

Morocco

Bono, Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Mazraoui, Ounahi, Amrabat, Sahiri, Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal