By the end of the day, the quarterfinals will be set. Up to now, you’d have to say that things have gone “according to plan”, the higher-ranked team winning each game in Round of 16 thus far.
Spain and Portugal are favorites today, but neither is a lock. Is anything ever a lock at this Cup?
Morocco v Spain, 15:00 GMT
Venue: Education City Stadium
Less then 15 kilometers separate these two countries, but from a footballing perspective they have been worlds apart. Until now.
Morocco is undefeated in Qatar, and the defense is yet to be scored on by a player from the opposing team (their only goal-against was an own goal). Four different players have scored, and three different players have provided assists. If they can keep this close or go up early, Morocco may be a team destined to keep advancing. The Moroccans come in with confidence even against a powerhouse like Spain. They have truly earned their place here, and the underdog role will suit them just fine.
After a spectacular start, the Spaniards have been tested. They tied the Germans and lost to an inspired Japanese side. I’m not sure I’d say they are wobbling, as they looked in control for much of both matches. Of course, teams get no points in the table for control. Gavi, Busquets, and Pedri have started each match thus far, but Luis Enrique has made changes elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how they line up to start this game. Spain will want to dictate possession and tempo, so it’ll be critical that they translate those into goals.
Prediction: Morocco 2 - 3 Spain
Portugal v Switzerland, 19:00 GMT
Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium
Portugal considers itself the favorite here, having the superstars to make them so. Bruno Fernandes (who rested last game) leads with two goals plus two assists, but he has had lots of help. The Portuguese have scored in each game for a total of six goals so far. They’ve also given up two in two of their three games, so they are vulnerable at the back. There’s a lot of pressure on them to move forward.
The Swiss achieved their two victories in different ways. Their attack outscored Serbia 3-2 on the final day to get through, and in MD-1 the defense held strong in a 1-0 win against Cameroon. And even in the 1-0 loss to Brazil, the Swiss showed that they can be a difficult opponent to face down. Breel Embolo has scored twice, and they may need him to step up again today.
I see this as a very evenly matched game.
Prediction: Portugal 1 - 2 Switzerland
Who will win Morocco vs Spain?
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Who will win Portugal vs Switzerland?
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