Spain vs Morocco Live: Spain looks to secure spot into the World Cup round of 16 on Monday when it faces Morocco in the final group stage match. The La Roja are coming off a fortunate 1-0 win over Iran and will be through if Portugal beats Iran. But if the team relies on itself, a draw or win will be enough to move on.
Both teams are healthy ahead of this one with Spain having gotten back Dani Carvajal for the Iran clash.
Here’s how you can watch the match and more. And be sure to return a half an hour before kickoff for our live blog of the game:
Morocco, on the other hand, was eliminated after suffering a 1-0 loss to Portugal in the second matchday of the group.
Spain only need a point to qualify for the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup on Monday, when they face an already-eliminated Morocco team.
Manager: Herve Renard – It’s a first World Cup for the French boss, though he’s got a pair of Africa Cup of Nations titles (one with Zambia and the other with Ivory Coast). Renard also had success with Angola at the 2010 AFCON, and could become a big figure for a fourth African nation with an early win over Iran, a surprise draw against Portugal or Spain, and help.
Secret weapon: Hakim Ziyech – The longtime Eredivisie star is coming off a league-leading assist season (15) with Ajax and arguably the top season overall in the league. He’ll have to get past club teammate and fellow under-the-radar star Alireza Jahanbakhsh of Iran in a neat little subplot.
Prediction: It’s a tall ask to get out of the group, but if Spain puts Portugal to the knife and Morocco beats Iran on the first group match day, the CAF side can hope to stifle Portugal in Game Two and then keep goal differential in check against Spain in the finale. It’s still looking like third place at best, but there’s a path
Spain coach Fernando Hierro is unlikely to make too many changes given the significance of the game, although Lucas Vazquez may be replaced after an ineffective performance against Iran.
Morocco boss Herve Renard will want to see his side finishing strongly too and should name a decent XI despite having nothing to play for.
Given their two nearest rivals for progression are facing one another, Spain could lose this match and still qualify if Portugal beat Iran. Even so, Hierro will want to see his team keep their fate in their own hands. Despite the turmoil during their World Cup preparations, La Roja appear well equipped to do exactly that.
Against Portugal, they played some wonderful stuff, with their opponents bailed out thanks to some magic from Cristiano Ronaldo. And they had to battle against Iran.
Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe thinks La Roja have been the best team in Russia:
Likely Spain XI: David De Gea; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, David Silva, Andres Iniesta; Isco, Diego Costa, Marco Asensio.
Likely Morocco XI: Munir Mohand Mohamedi; Nabil Dirar, Medhi Benatia, Roman Saiss, Achraf Hakimi; Karim El Ahmadi, Younes Belhanda, Hakim Ziyech; Ayoub El Kaabi.
The 2010 champions have been involved in two contrasting contests in Russia, as they drew 3-3 in a thrilling game against Portugal before digging out a 1-0 win against Iran. A point would be enough to progress. If they better Portugal’s result—the European champions play Iran on Monday—they will top the group.