Our Predictions Ahead Of Morocco vs Spain And Portugal vs Switzerland
6 Dec 2022
Brazil showed last night why they were the favourites going into this tournament, bringing their signature flair to Qatar and setting up a Quarter-Final against the resilient Croatia. Today, we have two mediterranean sides going up against some wily underdogs. Here are our predictions for today’s games:
Morocco vs Spain
It’s time for Morocco to start being looked at as a real threat in this tournament. They are one of the few sides who have gone unbeaten so far and possess quality in areas all over the pitch. Hakim Ziyech in particular has been very impressive on the wing, and it feels as if he has been freed from the shackles of the physicality of the Premier League, allowing him to focus on his excellent technical ability that has made him a leading light for his country. Achraf Hakimi can bomb forward from full back, as well as having the recovery pace to get back and defend, while Roman Saïss has been solid all tournament and has even popped up with a goal.
Spain on the other hand have come back down to earth after their thumping of Costa Rica in the first round of fixtures. They have had some tough tests against Germany and Japan, but have struggled to convert their possession into clear cut chances over the last two games. Dani Olmo has been one of their stars of the tournament, while Barcelona midfielders Gavi and Pedri are trying to prove that the future is now for this Spanish side.
I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that this game will see the first upset of the knock out stages. Morocco have had some impressive results and have already proven that they can mix it with elite European competition. While Spain undoubtedly posess more quality in nearly every area of their starting 11, Morocco can frustrate them and cause problems from wide areas. You can expect a close game with Spain dominating the ball, but if they fail to turn their possession into goalscoring opportunities, Morocco have the ability to capitalise.
Score Prediction: Morocco 2-1 Spain
Portugal vs Switzerland
With rumblings of discontent in the Portugal camp, it is clear that drama follows Cristiano Ronaldo wherever he goes. Fernando Santos, the Portugal manager, was unimpressed with Ronaldo’s reaction at being substituted in their final group game, and has threatened to take away his captaincy of the side in response.
Whatever side of the fence you sit on when it comes to Ronaldo’s antics for both club and country, it is clear that this is an unnecessary distraction in the build up to a major tournament knockout stage. Portugal do however have some excellent players up and down their squad, and will prove to be tough opposition for any team to come up against. Rafa Leão has been limited to mainly cameo appearances, but I feel he could have a huge impact if Portugal are to advance through the tournament.
Switzerland have been solid and have picked up some good wins against Serbia and Cameroon, as well as narrowly missing out on a point against Brazil. Breel Embolo has proved to be a real goal threat up front, while Granit Xhaka gives the Swiss an edge in the middle of the park. They are well organised, and Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji can act as a rock at the back for them.
In spite of the off-field drama for Portugal, I believe that their side has more of an X-Factor than Switzerland’s, which should give them the advantage in this game. Santos will be looking to Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes to be incisive and break down the Swiss defensive wall, while Cristiano Ronaldo has to step up to the plate and let his play on the pitch do the talking.
Score Prediction: Portugal 3-1 Switzerland