Spain vs Morocco: 5 things to look forward to

Morocco will head home after this game but will Spain be joining them on the plane?


REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The final round of group stage matches intrigues as those already packing their bags face teams still fighting to progress. 

This odd dynamic does not always produce obvious results, so Spain will be taking nothing for granted ahead of this ‘trap game.’

Morocco have gained plenty of admirers with their positive style of play and neutrals will be well advised to tune in for this one.

Here are five things to look forward to in this game.

  1. 1 Party atmosphere


    REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

    Morocco’s fans will arrive here knowing their World cup journey will end at the final whistle. But they won’t be going out quietly. 

    A party atmosphere can be expected as fans and players alike look to give it their all one last time.

    The fiesta atmosphere amongst the Moroccans will contrast with the nerves and tensions on the Spanish side as their immediate World Cup future is decided over the course of 90 minutes.

    This should be an entertaining encounter on and off the pitch.

  2. 2 First major test for Hierro


    REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

    Following their unbeaten run heading into this competition under deposed boss Julen Lopetegui, perhaps the team rode that momentum into the tournament. 

    But with each game that goes by, the focus on Fernando Hierro grows stronger.

    Spain only need a draw to progress but are facing a team that have nothing to lose. 

    Managing a crucial match under these circumstances will be a big test for the interim boss. From this point on, the fate of the team rests squarely in his hands

  3. 3 Amrabat out to irritate Spain


    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    Morocco's Nordin Amrabat suffered a concussion in their opening game against Iran. 

    But despite having just five days to recover, he persuaded team doctor Abderrazak Hifti to let him play against Portugal. Fifa’s own guidelines suggest at least six days’ rest after concussion is diagnosed. 

    Despite this lapse of responsibility from the medical team, Amrabat put on a stunning performance as his team troubled Portugal for large parts of the game.

    The Watford striker (on loan at La Liga side Leganes) should feature once again and could prove to be a thorn in the side of the Spanish.

  4. 4 Costa’s scoring streak


    REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

    After shunning Brazil, his nation of birth, to turn out for the Spanish national team, Diego Costa has faced a constant battle to prove his worth to the team. 

    Vicente del Bosque failed to find a formation to exploit his strengths, the low point being the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

    But Julen Lopetegui showed faith in the striker - despite ongoing debate in the Spanish media - adapting the player and team dynamic to where there was a common union. 

    Once the formula was found, the goals started to flow and Costa now looks like a force to be reckoned with at the spearhead of Spain’s attack. He has scored three of Spain’s four goals in this tournament and has netted eight times in nine starts in 2018.

    The Atletico Madrid man will look to add to that as he chases the likes of Harry Kane for the Golden Boot.

  5. 5 Spain on their best behaviour?


    REUTERS/Murad Sezer

    If Spain and Portugal both win by the same scoreline on Monday, FIFA will use their disciplinary records to decide who tops the group. This could affect each team's potential route to the final.

    The ‘fair play’ rule would also come into play if they both lose by identical scores. In this scenario, it would decide who progresses to the last 16 and who goes home.

    Spain have one Fair Play point thanks to a yellow card picked up by Sergio Busquets while Portugal have two yellows, one for Adrien Silva and one for Bruno Fernandes. 

    If Spain can avoid a booking in their match against Morocco, they would be guaranteed to come out on top, if the fair play rule is applied. Will we see a squeaky clean Spain on Monday? 

    What are you looking forward to about this game? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. Poll: Who will come out on top on Monday?

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    3. Neither - it will be a draw
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