Spain vs Morocco
One of the FIFA 2018 favourites takes centre stage at Kaliningrad on Monday when Spain take on Morocco in their last game of Group B.
It’s a game Spain are expected to win, and that would take them safely through. And that would also help them put the pre-tournament managerial drama behind them!
Opponents Morocco can count themselves to be very unlucky to be taking an early trip home, bottom of the group and with no hope after two 1-0 defeats.
The us football pundits were full of support for Spain before the tournament but were understandably nervous once Coach Julen Lopetegui was unceremoniously sent on his way two days before the opening ceremony. Never before have we seen such a disconnect between a nation’s FA and one of its teams. The Spanish FA and Real Madrid officials are unlikely to be exchanging Christmas cards this year!
In stepped Fernando Hierro, manager of La Liga second-tier club Oviedo in 2017, which you have to say isn’t the most impressive managerial record in the tournament. But with 89 caps and 29 goals for Spain as a player, Hierro has the respect of players and fans alike. Shortly after his retirement, he was awarded 43rd place in the Times’ list of ‘hardest players of all time’. So if there are any players who don’t respect the new boss, they had better be faster than him!
There have been a few surprise FIFA 2018 results already, but Spain have managed to stay out of trouble amidst the managerial turmoil.
They looked the better side in the opening 3-3 draw with Portugal, but there was little anyone could do to stop Ronaldo; apart from goalkeeper David De Gea of course, who scooped a weak long-range shot into the corner of his own net when everyone expected him to just pick the ball up. Hierro has rightly backed his keeper, saying everyone makes mistakes and few keepers in the world can make the saves De Gea does.
Herve Renard’s Morocco has lived with both their opponents so far, for virtually the entirety of each game. Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the only goal in the fourth minute in their Moscow meeting last Wednesday; there was heartbreak in St Petersburg for poor Aziz Bouhaddouz put one through his own net in the 95th minute to give Iran a win they hardly deserved.
Morocco had bossed the game for long periods, and in Hakim Ziyech, they have a player who can turn a game in an instance. The Ajax midfielder has quick feet and a keen football brain and was unlucky not to score when his late drive was brilliantly saved against Iran. Had that gone in, I suspect Morocco would have held on to win and they would now be in a good position to qualify.
Ziyech is a man who can make chances for the forwards, leading the Eredivisie with 15 assists last season.
Spain are World Cup royalty, making their 15th appearance in the Finals and dominating football very recently as champions in 2010. They still have the talent to take on the world again.
It’s the Lions of the Atlas’ fifth appearance, their best effort being a last-16 place in 2006.
Morocco had four wins in five games in the run-up to the World Cup, and so the back-to-back defeats here must be hard to swallow for their fans.
Spain came into the tournament in a rich vein of form, the highlight being a 6-1 spanking of Argentina. Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa has already scored three goals in the first two games in Russia, and he’ll have an eye on the Golden Boot.
What are the Odds?
Spain are hot favourite to win this game at odds of 1.34; the draw is at 4.90 and it’s 9.00 for an unlikely Morocco win.
FIFA 2018 betting players will expect a comfortable win for Hierro’s men, with the handicap betting offer suggesting a two-goal margin as the most likely outcome. With a -1.50 goal handicap, Spain are available at 2.11, with Morocco at 1.84 with that +1.50 goal advantage.
We think there will be goals in this one, Spain have attacking talent running through the team, while Morocco have nothing to lose and will want to give their fans a happy trip home. Over 2.50 goals seem likely at odds of 1.89, and you can get 2.01 on under 2.50.
If you believe Morocco can finally get some reward that their play has warranted then you can back a double chance of Morocco and Draw at odds of 3.05.
It’s the least Renard’s team deserves, but I fear they will go home empty-handed.
As for Spain, another attacking performance will have their fans really believing Fernando is the man.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE WORLD CUP 2018 STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.
Follow us on social Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.