Achraf, Ziyech and the roar of the ‘Lions of the Atlas’

spain She had everything on her side to finish as the first classified in her group, but the setback on the final day against Japan changed her plans and those of Luis Enrique they went to the round of 16 as seconds behind the Japanese. A reality check that puts a brake on the good Spanish sensations and that changes the plans, because it puts Selection on the opposite side of the box to what was expected.

As second classified, Spain will face the first team in group F in the round of 16, that is, Morocco. Here too there was surprise because Belgium stayed out, Croatia passed as second and the best team of all was the African. It is the second time in its entire history that those from the north of Africa overcome the group stage, something that only happened in the World Cup in Mexico 1986.

The Moroccans have already warned that, without starting as favourites, they can advance and leave anyone worth their salt with their mouths open. They have done it in their group and they want to repeat the same movie in the playoffs. On paper, Spain starts as the favourite, but the role of victim does not scare Morocco in the least, which is determined to continue making history in the World Cup.

[Marruecos da la sorpresa en su grupo y se clasifica como primera tras vencer a una peleona Canadá]

Collective and individuality

Morocco has several weapons to be a rival feared by Spain in the round of 16. The combo that leads Walid Reragui They have an important game based on the strength of the team, but that does not mean that they have decisive players who can make a difference.

They are not a typical African team, which usually offer a lot of physical dedication and a lower football quality. Morocco plays another football. Not surprisingly, they have footballers who shine in the best European leagues and some of the great specialists on the planet in their position as Achrafi Hakimi.

Precisely the right side, formed in the quarry of the Real Madrid, is one of the great stars of this team with the ability to decide matches despite his position on the pitch. His exponential growth in recent years has been impressive, his explosiveness and his long run on the wing have made him one of the most valued footballers in his position.

Morocco team players celebrate Abdelhamid Sabiri’s goal at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar


But still a step up on the ladder of Morocco it’s found Judge Ziyech. The front of the Chelsea He is a player of proven quality, the most important man in this team on and off the pitch, and the guide in attack for the African team.

However, there are other big names that play in top-level teams and several acquaintances from The leaguestarting with the goal. Bonothe starting goalkeeper, currently plays for the Sevilla while Munirsubstitute goalkeeper, played in teams like the Numancia or the Málaga.

Up, Youssef En-Nesyri is the ‘9’ reference. The front of the Sevilla He is a constant danger to opposing defenses due to his long stride and his height, and in this world is leaving a great level. In fact, he scored one of the two goals in the last win against Canada.

In Nesyri celebrates his goal against Canada.

In Nesyri celebrates his goal against Canada.


The forward is also part of Morocco in attack Ez Abde. The youth squad of Barcelonawho plays on loan in healthis having a little leading role but his speed makes him a danger. Sofiane Bufalanother important man, played in the ranks of the Celtic of Vigo four seasons ago. Finally, Jawad El Yamiq currently militates in the ranks of the Real Valladolid.

Ziyech’s mess

Managing the selection of Morocco from the bench is Walid Reragui. Nicknamed the ‘Mourinho Arab’, he met the team already qualified for the World Cup, although now he is reinforcing all the previous work by far. He is making an entire nation daydream that is absolutely invested in the world Cup and that he imagines leaving Spain in the gutter to sneak into the quarterfinals for the first time.

Morocco did not arrive, a priori, at its best at the appointment. Although Regragui is now fully established at the head of the ‘Lions of the Atlas’, the truth is that he has barely been on the Moroccan bench since last August. The federation decided to change course and dismiss the previous coach, Vahid Halilhodzicjust over 100 days to play the World Cup.

The Bosnian had done a good job at the helm of the team, putting Morocco among the best teams on the planet, but his personal problem with Ziyech took a toll on him. The coach and the great star of Morocco had starred in a tough confrontation that led the star of the Chelsea to no longer be summoned with his country despite being the footballer with the highest quality by far.

[Regragui, el ‘Mourinho’ de Marruecos: de la frontera con Ceuta al morbo de jugar contra España]

The clash even became public when Ziyech was not called up for the last africa cup. Halilhodzic appealed to the striker’s lack of commitment and did not lose his convictions, the decision was firm and the attacker was left out. In Morocco they wanted the Chelsea player in the World Cup and, after the departure of the Bosnian coach, Ziyech returned to the national team.

Now the former player of Ajax He is a fundamental piece in the gear of the Moroccan team. He has started in all three group stage matches and his role has been essential. He delivered an assist in the clash against Belgium and on the third day against Canada he scored one of the winning goals.

Spain, therefore, should not lose sight of this talented footballer who guides Morocco in attack. Neither him nor achraf al-Hakim, nor to En Nesyri, the three most dangerous footballers a priori. The ‘Lions of the Atlas’ are willing and ready to give one more roar and also leave those of Luis Enrique. They have already done it with Belgiumanother of the contenders for the title, so they have experience.