Morocco-Spain of the World Cup Qatar 2022: chronicle, result and goals

BarcelonaSpain wrinkled their noses when they saw that the match against Morocco was going to a penalty shootout. He did not have a good memory of recent precedents. It already happened to him at the World Cup in Russia, when he fell against the host on penalties. And it happened to him in the Eurocopa contested in 2021, against Italy. This time the opponent was Morocco. And at the decisive moment the same thing happened to him. The African team scored three. The Spanish combined, not one. And, of course, it has been eliminated.

A disappointing marker that, in general terms, narrates the passage, more than discrete, of the Red for the Qatar World Cup. From more to less. Starting off making a lot of noise, with a historic thrashing in the debut against Costa Rica (7-0) which, from the start, almost guaranteed him to go through the round. Then would come the duel against a great team, Germany, which ended in a draw (1-1) and which meant puncturing the balloon of euphoria – the team would end up eliminated–. The passage continued with a bucket of cold water, an unexpected defeat against Japan (1-2) which involved giving up the first place in the group. And it ended with the disappointment against Morocco (0-0, 1-3).

“I want to congratulate the champion, they were better than us,” said Luis Enrique with resignation, who has not given up his responsibility after the defeat. “I have chosen the first three penalty kickers”, he said, anticipating the rain of criticism that, old cat, he can already sense will fall on him. “This is sport. The players have followed the instructions I have given them. It is over. I have not a single complaint about this group of footballers. It has been a wonderful concentration and hopefully the experience can serve them in the future,” continued the coach, who did not want to comment on his future in the national team. “Now is not the time.”

A party with a lot of politics

The duel between Morocco and Spain went beyond football. It is undeniable that sport is political and that a World Cup only accentuates this. In addition to the rivalry on the grass, there are ideological conflicts or pending scores between teams from other tournaments. The party added a history of political battles between two neighboring countries and a massive migration from the North African region to that of Southern Europe. When the Moroccans came round and the streets of many cities in the Peninsula collapsed due to the celebration – including Barcelona –, the feeling was accentuated that these round of 16 would be hot, like a derby, like a classic politicized, like that Barça-Madrid in the thick of the Process. In the end, there was more tension in the environment than on the turf. What happened, or what stopped happening, is explained more by the nerves of the moment than by external interference.

Because it wasn’t a brilliant match, in general terms. Exciting because of what is at stake, but mostly stalled, with interruptions and without anyone really being able to impose what they wanted. Spain had a lot of possession, but could not clearly reach Bono’s goal. And Morocco was betting on a vertical game that allowed them to get closer to Unai Simón’s area, especially on the side defended by Marcos Llorente, surprisingly placed on the right-back and who has lost almost all the battles against the winger Soufiane Boufal. But beyond this waterway, little else in the Moroccan attack. The pair of central players, with Rodri and Laporte, expeditious and reliable, repelled all attacks. Morocco only had two clear chances in the first 90 minutes. A free kick from Achraf that came off the crossbar and a header from Boufal, from the small area, deflected.

Ferran Torres, the Barça striker, has been very critical of the referee. “There were times when we played against 12”, he said in reference to the permissiveness of the Argentinian midfielder Fernando Rapallini. But the truth is that it was very difficult for Spain to do damage and convert possession into opportunities. The collective game has failed in construction. Instead, it has worked under pressure, where it has forced multiple errors from Morocco’s defence. Two of them, gifts that didn’t end up in a goal due to the lack of aim, especially from Marco Asensio, who was again acting as a center forward. It wasn’t until the second half that we saw a more compact team with clear ideas. And we had to wait until the 55th minute to see the first shot on goal for Luis Enrique’s team, which Dani Olmo made in the service of a lateral foul.

Harmless monologue from Spain

Morocco only pressed in one action at the restart, where they put Unai Simón in a commitment. The rest, a double-decker bus in defense, shamelessly giving the ball to Spain. Luis Enrique has brought in Carlos Soler, Morata and Nico Williams to have more offensive vocation. More theory than practice. The ball was moving very close to Bono’s goal, although chances were still few and far between. Lots of U-shaped, right-to-left and left-to-right passes. Lots of horizontal play and little vertical play. The Moroccan outfit was absolutely melted, though the Red he didn’t know how to take advantage of it, unable to find overflowing individualities. It was like hitting a wall. Morocco already accepted the role of a subjugated team because it didn’t have any anxieties either. And the Spanish forward found herself in a thick fog every time she entered the opponent’s area. Extra time was inevitable, as much as both teams made one last attempt to score in the penalty shootout, more with their hearts than their heads.

Álvaro Morata receiving a foul in the Morocco-Spain World Cup in Qatar

Luis Enrique, who already smelled it, has saved the changes to have more oxygen in the extra time. The Blaugranas Balde and Ansu raised the bar offensively, but the clearest opportunity ended up being Moroccan: Cheddira could finish from the penalty spot and Unai Simón had to stand up as the savior of the homeland to avoid a goal that seemed to be sung . The last fifteen minutes have been a monologue from a Spain that has done everything well except finish, and that Sarabia had, at the last gasp, a golden opportunity that hit the post. The quarters were decided on penalties.

Bono, hero of Morocco

It’s no use dominating a game if chances don’t materialize. Not during regulation time, not during extra time, not in penalties. Spain has not scored a goal. Sarabia hit the post and Bono stopped Soler and Busquets’ shots. Morocco missed Benoun’s shot, but goals from Sabiri, Ziyech and Achraf put them in the quarter-finals. The best ranking in its history.

Now comes a moment of uncertainty for the Spanish team. “I don’t know if a cycle is closed. We will try to convince people like Busquets to continue. I don’t know what will happen with the coach, we are with him until death,” said Ferran Torres. While Busquets, who – like Luis Enrique – did not want to talk about his future, he did want to send a message of optimism: “We are in a good dynamic and we have a very good group for the future”. The present, however, is an eight-eighth elimination. one more


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