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Portugal vs Morocco: What are the key battles to look out for in the quarter-final match?

Losing ageing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo allowed for a much more flexible and proactive attack, and his replacement, Benfica starlet Goncalo Ramos, was more than capable of taking over.

Portugal players in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/FIFA World Cup)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Dec 9, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

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Achraf Hakimi put the finest of finishing touches on Morocco’s defensive masterclass on Tuesday, ensuring hero status for all time. His “Panenka” penalty sent the North African country through to the quarterfinals while handing Spain a 3-0 shootout loss. In order to grind out a scoreless draw and set up a thrilling finish, Walid Regragui’s team had to fight valiantly against the Spanish “death by a thousand passes” strategy. In doing so, they had to sacrifice the majority of their possession. Yassine Bounou, the goalkeeper, joined Hakimi as an everlasting legend in Rabat, Marrakech, and beyond. In a packed Education City Stadium, which was primarily filled with Moroccan fans whose fervour has proven to be such a prominent feature of these finals, becoming just the fourth African side to reach the last eight at a World Cup – and the first in 12 years – sent the crowd wild.

This week, the Selecao easily defeated Switzerland and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Qatar 2022 World Cup as Fernando Santos was rewarded for establishing his authority by benching Portugal’s legendary captain. This victory may have been Santos’ greatest since winning the 2016 European Championship. Losing ageing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo allowed for a much more flexible and proactive attack, and his replacement, Benfica starlet Goncalo Ramos, was more than capable of taking over as the new king. The 21-year-old scored an unstoppable opening goal and then went on to score a fairytale hat-trick in Portugal’s 6-1 victory. It was his first senior start and the first treble of the competition. Here are some of the key battles to look out for.

Joao Felix vs Achraf Hakimi

There always is fireworks when an explosive winger comes face to face with a prolific wing back. Joao Felix has been playing like an absolute star for his national team so far this world cup. Felix has had an inconsistent time with Atletico Madrid this season but none of that has shown with Portugal. The young winger will be up against the ever consistent Achraf Hakimi who has been solid as a wing back for Morocco. The PSG player scored the winning penalty against Spain in the last 16.

Goncalo Ramos vs Romain Saiss

Goncalo Ramos exploded onto the scene in Portugal’s last 16 match against Switzerland. The teenager scored a magnificent hat-trick and has probably solidified his place in the starting lineup. Ramos will be raring to go against Morocco but he will have to deal with a vastly experienced Romain Saiss at the back. Saiss has been a rock for Morocco at the world cup so far this year and he delivered an earth shattering performance against Spain that was crucial in his nation’s success in the match.

Bruno Fernandes vs Sofyan Amrabat

Moroccan central midfielder Sofyan Amrabat was one of the heroes on the pitch in their narrow win against the Spanish. He played a crucial role in blocking and intercepting a lot of Spain’s attacking moves. He will be looking to do the same against Portugal. However, he will have a tough time keeping Bruno Fernandes in check. The Manchester United man has been arguably the best midfielder of the tournament and he will get involved in a lot of attacking moves.



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