Morocco stunts and goes to the quarter-finals at the World Cup after penalty kicks at the expense of Spain

Fought like lions in the Atlas, and feared for a long time that they would be felled by a shot from the hunter from Spain. But from an almost impossible situation, the lion emerged victorious.

For Morocco, the great World Cup adventure has become even more beautiful thanks to the better used penalties that were needed after 120 minutes without a goal (0-0) against the former world champions Spain.

It created crazy scenes in the stands where, for more than two hours, a hell of a lot of noise was made by blood fanatics and Moroccan fans who supported their heroes in every possible way and also went berserk during the penalty shootout. It proved to be enough to propel the team to a new high point in World Cup history.

Interest in Morocco’s performance in the Round of 16 at this World Cup was overwhelming. The Moroccan airlines had to bring in planes from all over the world to transport thousands more fans to Qatar. The Moroccan Embassy in Qatar made 500 tickets available to Moroccan fans living in the capital Doha. FIFA made a total of 5,000 extra tickets available to Morocco’s supporters.

The entire Arab world also seemed to support the Moroccan team in Qatar. All football fans in the country were eager for the big surprise from the group stage. Among the sea of ​​red shirts at the Lusail Stadium, the only white left to see was the Qatari with their traditional kandueras. The Spanish supporters were of course also in the red, but they proved to be far outnumbered. A bit of what the orange army is waiting for against Argentina…

Morocco should succeed in doing what the United States, Australia, Poland, Senegal, Japan and South Korea failed to do. In all previous Rounds of 16, the favorite eventually progressed to the quarter-finals. And now, of course, Spain was the country that everyone expected to survive and stop the Moroccans.

Possession for Spain

But halfway through, a packed stadium saw the Spaniards, as always, have most of the ball, but that it only led to one shot on target. It happened when Asensio broke through on the left wing and hit the ball into the side netting with speed. On the other hand, there were four good chances from the Moroccans, who used the same tactics as in the previous games. That meant a solid, defensive organization and breaking out as soon as possible. It succeeded quite a few times. The Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon had to act together with Nayef Aguerd, Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui.

Physically, of course, it was good for Morocco, who have a lion in midfield in Sofyan Amrabat, but also have two backs in the form of Mazraoui and Hakimi, who will not let anyone go out or sideline them. The question that arose during the match was whether it would be enough to upset any combination football of Luis Enrique’s men.

In the eyes of the star player Hakimi, who has further built up his status in Paris St. Germain, should Morocco be able to handle the great Spain. “In the past four years, we have gained a lot of experience and we have become a really mature team. It’s unbelievable what we were able to do in this tournament,” he said beforehand.

In the other company, the team of ex-Ajax players Ziyech and Mazraoui were pushed further back, but the Spanish side’s extensive knitting and possession hardly resulted in any danger. The lack of a convincing striker again played a role in this. After an hour, Enrique also decided to replace his first choice, Marco Asensio, with Alvaro Morata.

Death threats

The story attached to this striker is that he was destroyed a year ago at the EC by his own Spanish crowd. Morata even received death threats due to a series of misses in EC matches. After a mentally tough period (,,I sometimes felt nothing after that EC when I woke up and didn’t want to do anything else”), he has been revived under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.

Morata did not actually appear in the play until extra time. In it, he messed up the Spaniards’ best burst with a few minutes on the clock. With five forwards against three defenders, he just gave the ball too hard in the sixteen meter area. In almost the same place, Morocco had previously been given a great opportunity through Walid Cheddira. He failed face to face with goalkeeper Simon. Substitute Pablo Sarabia then hit the post in the 120th minute.

It ended in a draw and the decision had to be made in the penalty shootout.

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