Home Sport Five takeaways from Morocco’s penalty shoot-out win over Spain

Five takeaways from Morocco’s penalty shoot-out win over Spain

Durban — Yassine Bounou saved three penalties as Morocco beat Spain in their penalty shoot-out to advance to the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Tuesday.

Morocco will play the winner of the other last-16 clash on Tuesday between Portugal and Switzerland.

IOL Sport’s Smiso Msomi gives us the five takeaways from Tuesday’s encounter.

Morocco match one of the world’s best

Following Senegal’s capitulation against England, many African eyes awaited Morocco’s clash with Spain as the football faithful wondered how the North Africans might do against one of the world’s best.

Surprisingly enough, the Atlas Lions were able to match some of the world’s best players for every tackle, pass and moments of brilliance.

Although starved for possession (like most teams that come up against Spain), Morocco was able to hold their own against a side riddled with pedigree and passion.

Morocco had more dangerous moments in front of goal than their much-favoured opponents, managing three shots on goal, while Spain had one.

Sofiane Boufal, a surprise package

Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri were expected to deliver the attacking threat for Morocco, however, with Walid Regragui’s side starved for possession, it was the trickery of Sofiane Boufal that provided them with the most positive action. His dribbling, speed and movement off the ball worried Spain all night.

The former Southampton (now with Angers in Ligue 1) winger completed eight of his 10 dribbles and won 12 of his 15 ground duels in the 66 minutes he spent on the field.

Spain’s false nine, a huge failure

Spain coach Jose Enrique began the match without a recognised No 9 up top, a risky proposition considering Morocco were expected to minimise space in their defensive zones.

Enrique dropped Alvaro Morata (who scored in the last match) for the dynamism of Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio, a decision that did not reap the expected rewards.

Amrabat, a key figure in a bigger picture

The predictability of Spain presented Morocco coach Regragui with a clear assignment, deny them space and you’re halfway there.

The Atlas Lions set up in their usual 4-3-3 formation, however, altered their point of engagement and dropped 20 metres into their half and denied Spain room to operate in front of their defence with Sofyan Ambrabat a key figure in central defensive midfield.

The Fiorentina hardmen won 100% of his duels and acted as an imposing guard for the back four.

Spain crumble under penalty pressure

Spain, for all their experienced playing personnel, crumbled once again under the penalty shoot-out pressure.

The 2010 World Cup Champions failed to convert all three of their attempted penalties and in the end, were dumped out of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

@ScribeSmiso

IOL Sport