World Cup 2018: Portugal v Morocco
Portugal have a fully-fit squad to choose from although Bruno Alves could be preferred to Jose Fonte in defence.
Sporting Lisbon winger Bruno Fernandes underwhelmed on his World Cup debut against Spain and may be replaced by Gelson Martins or Joao Mario.
Morocco have an injury crisis at right-back, with Nordin Amrabat ruled out with concussion following a clash of heads in the defeat to Iran.
Regular right-back Nabil Dirar remains sidelined with a knee injury.
One week in and this is already gearing up to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup. Arriving in Russia with a point to prove having scored just three times overall in three previous tournaments, he doubled that tally in one game against Spain. That Portugal got a draw from a match in which Spain were largely dominant was down almost solely to him.
Aside from rubbing salt in the wounds of their Iberian rivals following the sacking of Spain coach Julen Lopetegui, Ronaldo’s late equaliser puts Portugal in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stage if they beat Morocco, in just the second meeting between the two nations.
However, a small but significant portion of history is on Morocco’s side. They beat Portugal 3-1 in the group stage of the 1986 World Cup; it was Morocco’s first ever win at the tournament and Portugal’s only World Cup loss against African opposition.
It is a feat the Atlas Lions need to repeat; a second loss of this tournament, coupled with a positive result in the game between Spain and Iran, and Morocco are out.
- Their only previous meeting came at the 1986 World Cup. Morocco’s 3-1 victory was their first ever win in the tournament.
- Portugal have not lost against a non-European nation at the World Cup since June 2002 (W5, D3), in a 1-0 defeat to South Korea.
- Against Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo became just the fourth player to score in four World Cups, after Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose.
- It was Ronaldo’s 51st hat-trick and the 51st in World Cup history.
- At 33 years and 130 days, it made Ronaldo the oldest scorer of a hat-trick in a World Cup.
- Ronaldo’s third goal drew him level with Ferenc Puskas as the second-highest scorer in the history of international football with 84 goals. Only Iran’s Ali Daei (109) has scored more.
- Before the opening match, Ronaldo had scored just three goals in 13 World Cup appearances.
- Morocco had 68% possession in their 1-0 defeat to Iran, the most by a losing team in a World Cup match since June 2010, when Spain had 73% possession against Switzerland, but lost 1-0.
- The Atlas Lions did not face a single shot in the second half of that game, but lost to a 95th minute own goal.
- Aziz Bouhaddouz became just the third substitute to score an own-goal in a World Cup match. The others are Hungary’s Laszlo Dajka in 1986 (against USSR) and Portugal’s Petit in 2006 (versus Germany).
Portugal have 60% chance of progressing
Football statisticians Gracenote Sports believe Portugal have a 60% chance of progressing through the group.
Gracenote Sports head of analysis, Simon Gleave: “Portugal’s draw with Spain last Friday has made little difference to the chance of progress to the knockout stages for the Portuguese because the other match in the group between Iran and Morocco produced three points for Iran. Cristiano Ronaldo’s late equaliser was crucial to keep Portugal as the most likely to go through with group favourites Spain. A win is now critical to get ahead of Iran (or Spain) in the table before the final group matches decide who progresses.”