World Cup: Lionel Messi and Argentina squeeze into semi-finals as Croatia stun Brazil
Morocco play Portugal in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar and with history on the line. Morocco can become the first team from Africa to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup if they beat the Portuguese, who are favourites to progress to the final four following their brilliant 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the last 16.
Morocco will be sure to put up more of a fight after they battled to a 0-0 draw with Spain, before holding their nerve in the penalty shoot-out to spark wild celebrations in the country and Arab communities across the world.
Walid Regragui’s side have already been one of the stories of the World Cup but the manager now wants his team to make history in Qatar. “We have already achieved great things but we feel it’s not enough,” he said. “We want to go further.”
Portugal manager Fernando Santos, meanwhile, made the huge decision to drop captain Cristiano Ronaldo in the last 16, only for the 37-year-old’s replacement Goncalo Ramos to score a stunning hat-trick in the 6-1 win. Ronaldo remains dropped, as Santos sticks with the 21-year-old sensation.
Follow live updates from Morocco vs Portugal below, with the winner facing either England or France in the semi-finals
‘They are a very difficult team’
Portugal’s Otavio spoke to the media ahead of today’s match against Morocco and explained what he thinks about his team’s opponents.
“They are a very difficult team, we know that, most of the players have seen all the games in the World Cup.” he said,
“They haven’t lost any games and have only conceded one goal. They are very strong, but we want to win.
“They came with great fans, but inside the field it’s 11 against 11 and we want to win.”
Michael Jones10 December 2022 14:12
Cristiano Ronaldo: Portugal reject speculation over forward ‘threatened to leave World Cup’
Speculation that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the World Cup has been dismissed by the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF).
With the legendary forward reportedly threatening to leave Qatar before the crucial tie against the Swiss.
The friction appears to have emerged due to Santos’ anger at how Ronaldo responded to being substituted against South Korea, prompting Goncalo Ramos to get the nod in the starting line-up.
Michael Jones10 December 2022 14:08
Morocco duo out through injury
West Ham centre-back Nayef Aguerd and Bayern Munich full-back Noussair Mazraoui are both out injured for Morocco dealing a bitter blow to boss Walid Regragui.
Both men have been influential for the Arican side in their campaign so far and Morocco will loss a sense of security in defence for their absence.
Michael Jones10 December 2022 14:03
Morocco vs Portugal
No Cristiano Ronaldo again for Portugal with the 37-yeard-old forward starting from the bench in this quarter-final.
His replacement for their last-16 fixture against Switzerland, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in that match so he wasn’t going to get dropped after that performance.
Still, Ronaldo isn’t a bad option to have coming off the bench is he?
Michael Jones10 December 2022 13:58
Morocco vs Portugal
Morocco go into the match against Portugal on a five-game unbeaten run at the World Cup, their longest ever streak without defeat in the competiton.
They’ve won twice and drawn three of those games.
Michael Jones10 December 2022 13:54
Morocco vs Portugal team changes
There are two changes to the Moroccan side that defeated Spain in a penalty shootout during the previoud round. Defenders Nayef Aguerd and Nossair Mazraoui drop out with Yahia Attiyat Allah and Jawad El Yamiq coming in.
Cristiano Ronaldo is once again benched by Fernando Santos. Ruben Neves starts ahead of William Carvalho in Portugal’s only change.
Michael Jones10 December 2022 13:49
Morocco vs Portugal line-ups
Morocco XI: Bounou; Hakimi, Jawad El Yamiq, Saiss, Attiat-Allah; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal
Portugal XI: Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Silva, Otavio, Neves; Felix, Ramos, Fernandes
Michael Jones10 December 2022 13:47
World Cup 2022: Morocco vs Portgual
The winner of this tie will face the winner of the highly-anticipated quarter-final clash between France and England this evening.
The current World Cup holders are the favourites to beat Gareth Southgate’s men but this is probably the most even affair of the four quarter-finals.
No team has scored more goals at this World Cup than England while they have also been rock-solid defensively. However, their opponents have Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann as well as the valuable experience of getting through this stage of the tournament.
It should be an extremely intriguing and exciting contest.
Michael Jones10 December 2022 13:45
Goncalo Ramos fills Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoes with dream World Cup hat-trick
Prior to Portugal’s World Cup last-16 match against Switzerland, Cristiano Ronaldo had played 13,250 minutes of international football, approximately nine days more than the 36 minutes played by Goncalo Ramos. Ronaldo had also scored 109 goals in 159 international matches, including at five World Cups, while Ramos had scored once in three substitute appearances.
But by the end of his first start for his country, as Portugal cruised into the quarter-finals of the World Cup with a thumping 6-1 win over Switzerland, Ramos had scored three more goals in the knockout stages of the tournament than Ronaldo has managed across his entire career. The 21-year-old’s sensational hat-trick will go down as one of great breakout displays in World Cup history.
The decision made by Portugal head coach Fernardo Santos to drop Ronaldo was a seismic one. Whether it was due to form or for disciplinary reasons, following the reaction to his substitution against South Korea, it was a decision that required every inch of a strong and experienced managerial backbone. That much was proved by the army of photographers camped outside the Portugal dugout, and as Santos ignored the screaming hordes and their shrieks when Ronaldo was shown on the big screen.
Michael Jones10 December 2022 13:42
Regragui proud of Morocco’s achievements
Morocco have lit up the World Cup during this tournament not with their style of play which has been conservative at the best of times but with their doggedness to win and make history doing.
“I’m proud of my country and my team,” said head coach Walid Regragui. “You feel the positive vibe and everyone is acting like we are all part of the same family.
“People are identifying with us and we are uniting Moroccan people. That is more important than money and titles, but we are here to win games and go as far as we can in this tournament.
“We have Africa behind us and Arabic people, that’s important, but we are playing first for Morocco.”
Michael Jones10 December 2022 13:38
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