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Morocco Predicted XI to face Spain: Hakimi & Ziyech certain, Amallah over Sabiri?

09:40 EAT 06/12/2022
Hakimi Ziyech Morocco
The Atlas Lions hope to overcome Luis Enrique’s men and advance to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history

Morocco face Spain in the World Cup round of 16 on Tuesday, seeking a maiden quarter-final ticket but not much is likely to change from their squad.

Coach Walid Regragui has gone with virtually the same starting XI in all their matches, making just one change in midfield when Abdelhamid Sabiri came in for Selim Amallah in their last game against Canada.

However, with no major injury concerns and Spain set to hog possession, Amallah is likely to be recalled, which will be just one change from what has been a settled team.

GOAL predicts how the Atlas Lions are likely to line up against La Roja at the Education City Stadium.

  • Yassine Bounou Morocco.

    Goalkeeper: Yassine Bounou

    The Sevilla goalkeeper is assured of his place in goal after returning to the starting XI against Canada.

    Bono, as he is popularly known, has pulled off a number of key saves especially against Croatia and Canada, playing a key role to the Atlas Lions' good defensive record that has seen them concede just one goal.

    He comes up against a number of players whom he is familiar with in La Liga which will be an added advantage.

  • Achraf Hakimi

    Right-back: Achraf Hakimi

    The Paris Saint-Germain defender is another certainty in the starting XI, having featured in all matches so far, despite a number of niggles along the way.

    Hakimi acts as another attacking outlet due to his tendency to make forward runs and bring in crosses, something coach Walid Regragui will be looking for again.

    His range of passing from deep is also good as witnessed with his assist for Youssef En Nesyri against Canada although he will have to find the right balance between defence and attack to contain Dani Olmo.

  • Romain Saiss Morocco.

    Centre-back: Romain Saiss

    The captain and leader of the Atlas Lions, the Besiktas man has been immense in defence for the North Africans and he will need to bring out his 'A' game again.

    Saiss brings calmness at the back with his ability to win both aerial and ground tackles vital to their stay in the tournament.

    Spain are good at getting in the heads of defenders to draw out tackles that win them free-kicks in dangerous areas and Saiss' experience will be needed.

  • Nayef Aguerd of Morocco.

    Centre-back: Nayef Aguerd

    Scorer of an unfortunate own goal against Canada, the West Ham defender has partnered well with Saiss and is assured of his place again against the 2010 world champions.

    Aguerd has been good at covering ground especially when Saiss makes forward runs while he is also key on set plays due to his height.

    Morocco have shown that they can be compact when facing a team that likes to keep the ball while being expansive if needed, and Aguerd's good positional sense will come in handy in both situations.

  • Noussair Mazraoui Morocco.

    Left-back: Noussair Mazraoui

    The Bayern Munich full-back completes the defensive setup for Morocco who will benefit from a settled back four that has come up trumps when tested so far.

    Mazraoui, like Hakimi, is good at going forward to support the wingers and also knows when to stay put in his position to keep away from danger.

    He will likely come up against either Ferran Torres or youngster Nico Williams who possesses great pace, meaning his work is cut out.

  • Sofyan Amrabat Morocco.

    Central midfield: Sofyan Amrabat

    The man who dictates the tempo of the game, Amrabat is also assured of a start, having played a starring role for Morocco in the group stages.

    Amrabat is a good passer of the ball and great at slotting in at centre-back to provide cover whenever one of the defenders vacates his position.

    Against Spain, he will have to put in an impressive performance to prevent La Roja from dominating the midfield given Luis Enrique's side likes to play between the lines.

  • Azzedine Ounahi Morocco.

    Central midfield: Azzedine Ounahi

    Ounahi has started all matches, playing alongside Amrabat and offers extra defensive cover for Morocco, making it difficult to break them down.

    He rarely makes forward runs as he is the one tasked with slotting in at right back when Hakimi gets in advanced positions.

    With Spain likely to dominate possession as they attempt to play through the Morocco midfield, Ounahi will be key to the North Africans keeping their shape.

  • Selim Amallah of Morocco.

    Attacking midfield: Selim Amallah

    Dropped to the bench against Canada having started against Croatia and Belgium, the Standard Liege midfielder will likely be recalled against Spain when Morocco will need to do a lot of defending.

    Amallah is good at winning tackles in midfield and also offers calmness especially when Morocco are on the backfoot, something they will need a lot against the 2012 European champions.

    He also operates in a free role on occasion and if Morocco have to assert themselves through the middle of the park, he will likely be the initiator.

  • Ziyech Morocco

    Right wing: Hakim Ziyech

    Morocco's go-to man at the tournament, Ziyech has provided plenty of attacking spark and he will be the Atlas Lion's danger man again.

    Blessed with a great left foot, the Chelsea wide man will look to cut in and get into the Spain box to create and score for his team.

    Ziyech's goal against Canada showed the qualities that he brings in front of goal while his pass for Morocco's second goal against Belgium exemplified his great vision.

    Morocco might also have to rely on set plays to win the game, another area that Ziyech excels in, given his pin-point deliveries.

  • Youssef En-Nesyri of Morocco after scoring against Canada.

    Striker: Youssef En-Nesyri

    Having had a slow start, the Sevilla man came alive against Canada, scoring the second goal and would have had two more if not for the offside flag and poor finishing.

    Morocco will need that and much more against an opponent he understands well on Tuesday. His ability to play on the shoulders of the last defender should give Spain's centre-backs a lot to worry about while he might look to target midfielder-turned-defender Rodri at the Education City Stadium.

  • Sofiane Boufal Morocco.

    Left wing: Sofiane Boufal

    Boufal has formed part of an unbreakable Morocco front three and he will be handed a start again, barring any late injury.

    Yet to score in Qatar, the Angers man offers more than just goals given his work rate in and out of possession.

    Boufal is good at dragging defenders out of position to create space for his teammates to attack and also likes to track back to help out defensively, something he will be required to offer against Spain.