120 minutes to pass the ball without knowing what to do with it, then eliminated after a horrible penalty shoot-out: like in 2018, Spain failed in the last 16 of the World Cup. Morocco can thank Bounou, the hero of the evening, and expect Portugal or Switzerland in the quarter-finals.
Morocco 0-0 (3-0 TAB) Spain
Four years ago, to everyone’s surprise, Spain came out of the round of 16 through a Russia that was still vastly inferior on paper. The trauma is still alive, it could finally disappear from the minds of the Spaniards this Tuesday evening against Morocco. It did not happen. 120 minutes after carrying the ball back and forth, La Roja fell again on penalties, notably for a great Bounou, author of three saves in the three Spanish attempts.
La Roja away and Atlas Lions players
Spain very quickly implements the scenery: Busquets, Gavi and Pedri, replaced by Rodri, make the weather rain and shine in the middle, accompanied by an incessant flurry of Moroccan supporters making it clear to La Roja that they are playing on the outside. The first big situation can also be attributed to the Atlas Lions when Achraf Hakimi wraps his attempt a little too much on a well-placed free kick (12′). On the other side of the rectangle, Yassine Bounou’s daring, sometimes even reckless, kicks caused some shivers in Morocco, especially when a missed side kick benefited Ferran Torres who eventually found the bar before Bounou realized a spectacular outing in front of Gavi (25th). In injury time, Marco Asensio, alone on the left side of the field, saw his attempt end in the opposing side netting (27′). Despite the clean sheet, the game was pleasant, carried by a player from Morocco who created two more situations before the break: first a hard shot from Noussair Mazraoui, which was intercepted in two rounds by Unai Simón (32nd), then a header from Nayef Aguerd who passes (41st). Regragui’s squad is nice, but they also get nothing.
Aside from a two-handed rocket from Bounou (54′), Spain have almost nothing to say, cornered by a well-built Moroccan block and helped by great defensive work from Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal. Morocco still started to stick out their tongues on the hour, but Luis Enrique slowly pulled the Álvaro Morata card out of his hat and oddly even brought out Gavi, one of his best elements of the evening on the field. Nothing works for La Roja until the end of regular time: Forgotten at the far post in a set piece, Morata didn’t find the right header (90′ + 1′), and Bounou saved his people from a last chance after an attempt to escape from Dani Olmo (90′). +5). Logically, the monstrous boredom of this second act gives way to an expansion of all possibilities. The Russian nightmare of 2018 is undoubtedly on everyone’s minds in Spain.
The first 15 minutes of rab offer nothing exciting, but a confirmation: Morocco are giving in more and more, losing meter by meter, but can be reassured by the statement that Spain is not doing much to force their fate. Before the break, Walid Cheddira even came close to attacking, but missed his duel against Simón (104th). Rebelote after a shot: Cheddira misses another counterattack (115′) and Morata proves again why he is a terribly frustrating player. Barely in play, Pablo Sarabia missed the match point by crossing his volley too far (120+2). The hour of the watchmen and big boys has come. Bounou then came out of hiding, did the unthinkable, trying Sarabia, Soler and Busquets in turns, and saw Sabiri, Ziyech and Hakimi get the job done against Simón. Spain rubs the knife in its wounds, Morocco is in paradise.
Morocco (4-3-3): Bounou – Hakimi, Aguerd (El Yamiq, 84th), Saïss, Mazraoui (Attiat-Allah, 82nd) - Ounahi (Benoun, 120th), Amrabat, Amallah (Cheddira, 82nd) - Ziyech, En-Nesyri (Sabiri , 82nd), Boufal (Ezzalzouli, 66th). Coaches: Walid Regragui.
Spain (4-3-3): Simón – Llorente, Rodri, Laporte, Alba (Baldé, 98th) – Gavi (Soler, 63rd), Busquets, Pedri – Torres (Williams, 75th), Asensio (Morata, 63rd), Olmo (Fati, 98th) ). Coaches: Luis Enrico.
The Notes of Morocco-Spain
By Alexandre Lejeune