Going gets tough for Morocco ahead of R16 clash with Spain

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Morocco became the second African team to secure qualification to the round of 16, joining Senegal, and they did so in style, going unbeaten in the group stages, defeating Canada and Belgium and settling for a point with Croatia.

The Atlas Lions matched their best World Cup performance, reaching the knockout rounds of the tournament for the first time since 1986.

They finished top of their group after beating Canada 2-1 thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri.

The final round of matches in the group was a day for surprises and Japan’s victory against Spain meant that the Blue Samurai top group E with Spain finishing second.

Also, the result means that Morocco will have to take on Spain in the round of 16 at the Education City Stadium in what will be a true test of character for the Atlas Lions.

Spain have not really been convincing in their last two games, surrendering the leads against Germany and Japan to settle for a point against the former and none against the latter.

But Luis Enrique’s side have also played one of the best games of the tournament, when they dismantled Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening group game; something Morocco should be well aware of.

La Furia Roja have struggled against teams with seemingly similar characteristics as Morocco; they’re much invested in counter attacking football.

Morocco also have a chance to make history for themselves, as they aim to reach the Quarter finals of the world cup for the first time in their history and are well equipped to do just that with the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Noussair Mazraoui, Hakim Ziyech and En Nesyri. If things go to plan they have what it takes to hurt Spain.

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