The praise went to Walid Regragui’s men even though they were held to a scoreless draw by Croatia in their opening game of the World Cup. They then went on to beat Canada and Belgium and became one of only two African teams to reach the knockout stage of the tournament.
In their third matchday against Canada, the Red Devils got on the board first through Hakim Ziyech, who was able to capitalize on a mistake made by Milan Borjan. Youssef En-Nesyri then made it 4-0 before an own goal by goalkeeper Aguerd gave the Canadians hope.
The Atlas Lions were able to hold on for the three points and secure the group’s top spot, which would allow them to advance to the knockout stages. Morocco reached the 2022 tournament for the second time, having been eliminated in 1986.
Since then, Regragui’s men have gone on to win eight straight games in all competitions, and they’re on the verge of becoming the first Moroccan team to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup. They can also match continental history by becoming the first African team to finish a four-game streak without allowing a goal at the tournament since Cameroon from 1982 to 1990.
After falling behind to Japan on the final day of Group E, Luis Enrique was not pleased with his team’s performance. Although they were able to get on the board first through Morata’s 11th-minute goal, they were unable to hold on to the lead.
Ritsu Doan’s long-range effort found Unai Simon’s gloves, and three minutes later, Ao Tanaka was able to tap in the winner. Japan came back from a goal down after Mitoma failed to keep the ball in play.
Although there were various arguments about Mitoma’s block on the ball, the goal that gave Spain the lead was the most important stat of the match. It allowed the Spaniards to move up to second place in the group and overtake Germany on goal difference.
Had Spain won the group, they would have faced Croatia in the knockout stage. As for the match against Japan, which will be played on Tuesday, Luis Enrique is not taking anything for granted.
Despite being eliminated from the World Cup in the previous round, Spain was able to avoid going through to the next stage of the tournament without experiencing back-to-back losses.
Four years after they met in the group stages of the World Cup, Spain and Morocco will be facing off once more. In that match, Iago Aspas was able to score a late equalizer to give Spain a 2-2 draw.