Morocco vs Portugal Prediction - World Cup Odds & Free Pick

by 24USATVDec. 9, 2022, 8:01 p.m. 18
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Morocco have inspired millions with their historic run, but all the feel-good in the World might not help them against invigorated Portugal, who are a far superior squad. See why our World Cup picks have the magical run coming to an end Saturday.

Someone’s dream will come to an end on Saturday when Morocco and Portugal do battle in the World Cup quarterfinals. Morocco will hope to continue their furthest tournament run in history by following a win over Spain with a victory over the other Iberian powerhouse.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo’s final chance of adding a World Cup win to his stellar resume could rely on whether his teammates can keep up their impressive play.

A place in the semi-finals beckons whichever side is able to come away with the victory. Will it be the Atlas Lions and their exceptional defense, or will Selecao das Quenas book their first trip to the final four since 2006?

Let’s break down the action in our Morocco vs Portugal World Cup picks and predictions for Saturday, December 10.

Morocco holds more than just their own country’s hopes in their hands on Saturday. As the first Arab nation to ever reach this stage of the tournament, their shootout victory over Spain saw fans of other nations from the Middle East celebrating as if their country had won.

All over the world, fans took to the streets in joy, marching with flags as drivers honked their horns — something I enjoyed witnessing first-hand in the streets of London. In addition, they hold a continent’s aspirations as well: No African nation has ever reached the World Cup semi-finals.

But their spot in the quarterfinals hasn’t come by fluke. The Atlas Lions have conceded just one goal so far in the tournament — an own goal at that as they conceded to Canada in their 2-1 win in the group stage. Sofyan Amrabat of Fiorentina has drawn the eyes of many bigger clubs in Europe with his performance at the base of midfield, and his nine recoveries and four tackles against Spain led all players. However, they did lose center back Naif Aguerd late in regulation against Spain, and his absence could be a big loss.

It takes a bold manager to bench Ronaldo, especially in a national team where the younger players revere and admire him. Fernando Santos is that manager, and he was rewarded with a Portugal performance against Switzerland that saw them score six goals, as Goncalo Ramos posted a hat trick and showed they’ll be fine without their aging superstar.

Pulling the strings of everything Portugal did against the Swiss — and all tournament, really — is Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes. While Morocco were able to corral to a point both Luca Modric and Kevin de Bruyne earlier in the tournament, neither are playing as well as Bruno. And unlike those two, Bruno has help with Bernardo Silva able to create if he’s kept off the ball.

In 120 minutes against Spain, Morocco managed just 0.72 xG, and against Croatia they were able to achieve just half that number. While they found two goals against both Belgium and Canada, both of those defensive units were suspect throughout the tournament. They won’t find it easy against Portugal. In matches like this, where Portugal had to be a bit more reserved against better teams, they conceded just one goal in 180 minutes against Uruguay and Switzerland.

Portugal’s defense might be the best the Atlas Lions have faced this tournament, and their attack will be stronger than any they’ve seen. Spain made a huge mistake not having a point man in attack, and that won’t be the case with Joao Felix and Ramos leading the line. It might take a while, but Portugal will eventually break down their lines — and the hearts of many around the world — as they win without conceding a goal.

My best bet: Portugal win to nil (+150 at bet365)

Morocco are decided underdogs, as they have been many times in this tournament. Portugal’s talent far exceeds theirs, but they’ve managed to come away with wins against better opposition already in this tournament.

What will help Morocco even more is the atmosphere. Not only will many local fans be rooting for them, but there are stories of many from back home as well as other African and Arab nations getting tickets and coming in for the match. It will likely feel like a home crowd for them on Saturday.

Ronaldo is likely to remain on the bench, as the soap opera surrounding him rages on. But it was obvious against the Swiss that his inability to press was hampering the side, and they looked markedly different without him slowing things down.

Portugal have only reached the quarterfinals twice in their history at the World Cup. They’ve won both times, in 1966 and 2006. As for Morocco, only three other African teams have ever made this stage of the tournament — and all three have lost.

Morocco’s lack of a dominant striker and their defensive prowess has the Under 2.5 fairly juiced in this one. Through four matches, Morocco have yet to concede a goal from an opponent, with an own goal being the only blemish on their record.

But Portugal showed against the Swiss that they have the attackers to put a hurting on almost any team, as their six goals scored were the second-most in the tournament thus far and were twice as many as they allowed in their three group-stage outings.

Personally, I will be staying away from the total in this match. You have the team allowing the fewest goals in the tournament facing the team who has scored the most through four matches, and I could see Morocco frustrating Portugal just as much as I could see Portugal putting them to the sword.

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