June 20, 2018 04:29 PM NPT
Contrasting emotions for Group B opponents
Portugal currently a point ahead of the African outfit
There are wildly contrasting feelings in the respective team camps heading into the first fixture of Group B's second round. Portugal will be riding the crest of a Cristiano-shaped wave, after their talismanic captain grabbed a historic hat-trick to help his side claim a 3-3 draw against their Iberian neighbours Spain. Morocco, on the other hand, will be crestfallen after a late Aziz Bouhaddouz own goal saw them fall to a 1-0 defeat to IR Iran in their first FIFA World Cup game for two decades.
Morocco will be hoping for a repeat of history. The Atlas Lions have won just twice in 14 World Cup games, across five tournaments (including Russia 2018 so far), and the first of those victories was against the Portuguese at Mexico 1986.
Team reporter analysis
Portugal managed a positive result in a frenzied game against Spain and seek to calm things down with a victory against Morocco in their second Group B match. However, the Seleção das Quinas will encounter the defensive organisation that saw Morocco concede just once in qualifying, and kept IR Iran out until stoppage time in their opener.- Raquel Branco, with Portugal
A defeat against Portugal would effectively equal elimination for Morocco. Herve Renard will likely play four defenders - including Nabil Dirar - in an effort to block the Portuguese attack led by Cristiano Ronaldo. Their key forward during the qualifying campaign, Khalid Boutaib will probably play in place of Ayoub El Kaabi, who struggled against Iran. - Zineb El Houari, with Morocco
Did you know?
4 of Morocco's Russia 2018 squad were alive when Morocco won their first match at the World Cup finals against Portugal at Mexico 1986. Mbark Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi, Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa were all less than two years old at the time, and will likely not remember Abdelrazzak Khairi and Abdelkarim Krimau helping their nation to a fabled 3-1 victory.
Possible line-ups: Portugal: Rui Patricio; Cedric, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro; William, Joao Moutinho, Bernardo Silva, Joao Mario; Andre Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo
Morocco: Monir El Kajoui; Achraf Hakimi, Ghanem Saiss, Mehdi Benatia, Hamza Mendyl; Karim El Ahmadi, Hakim Ziyach, Mbark Boussoufa, Younes Belhanda, Noureddine Amrabat; Khalid Boutaib