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Morocco creates sensation and eliminates Spain in round of 16

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They eliminated their adopted country. Morocco eliminated Spain on penalties in the round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. With a sumptuous panenka, Hachraf Hakimi, who was born and raised in the southern suburbs of Madrid, concluded the superb performance of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who has been playing for ten years in Spain and who was impassable during the penalty shootout.

The Atlas Lions had never reached the quarter-finals of a World Cup. Before Monday, their best result in football’s premier competition was in 1986, when they reached the round of 16. Last African team still in the running, Morocco will have the opportunity to join the last four on Saturday (4:00 p.m.) against Portugal or Switzerland, who face off on Tuesday evening (8:00 p.m.).

Style opposition

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At the Education City Stadium in Doha, the long-awaited opposition in style took place between Spain, their game of short passing, and Morocco, their counterattacks and their victories based on an excellent defense, the best of the tournament (a only goal conceded). And in this game, it was the style of play of the Atlas Lions which for a long time seemed most capable of winning his team, in front of the Moroccan supporters, who were much more numerous than those of Spain.

“They have 70% possession of the ball on average, even having faced Germany or France, had also analyzed before the match Walid Regragui, the coach of Morocco. Possession, they will have it, you have to But Japan won (against Spain, 2-1) with 17% possession, and won with 20% possession against Germany (2-1).

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On Monday, La Roja had possession, in the proportions predicted by Regragui, but did not manage to break the Moroccan lock, often losing themselves in sequences of long possessions and side passes. Worse, Spain only scored two shots, one less than the Moroccans, before the penalty shootout, a lottery they would have liked to avoid.

Spain yet prepared

For La Roja, history repeats itself: the 2010 world champions had already been knocked out by a team within their reach, Russia, at the 2018 World Cup. The Spanish coach Luis Enrique had however foreseen this scenario by asking his players to prepare for the exercise.

“They had to arrive with at least a thousand penalties drawn with their clubs, explained Enrique at a press conference on Monday. There will surely be a knockout match where we will have to go through a penalty shootout.” Enrique had also shown his confidence in his “three very good goalkeepers”, including the holder Unai Simon. But it was Bounou, the goalkeeper of Sevilla FC, who took the light at the end of the match, stopping two shots on goal, from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets, while that of Pablo Sarabia had hit the post.

He confirmed what seems obvious after the fight won against Spain: Morocco has the best defense in the competition, which no opposing player has yet deceived. Only the central defender Nayef Aguerd deceived, despite himself, his goalkeeper against Canada (2-1). The attackers of Portugal and Switzerland are warned.

Source: Europe1

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