Portugal get set for a quarterfinal match against surprise contenders Morocco as the 2022 World Cup whittles down from eight to four teams.
The European side smashed Switzerland 6-1 thanks to a sensational hat-trick from Goncalo Ramos, the 21-year-old Benfica forward who replaced Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting lineup. With just 34 international minutes to his name at kickoff, Ramos shocked the world and sent Switzerland home with their tails between their legs.
Morocco showed they are no pushovers against Spain, defending with precision and organisation while retaining a threat on the break.
They became the fourth African nation to reach a World Cup quarterfinal thanks to a penalty shootout triumph. None of the previous three success stories from their continent have reached the semifinals.
Below are the projected lineups for both teams based on the latest news leading up to the match.
MORE: How to watch Morocco vs. Portugal in World Cup action across the globe
Morocco vs Portugal lineups, team news
There is a groundswell of support building behind Morocco’s fairy-tale run, with fans from across both the Arab world and Africa visibly rooting for the Atlas Lions.
“We have Africa behind us and Arabic people,” said head coach Walid Regragui. “That’s important, but we are playing first for Morocco.
“I’m proud of my country and my team. You feel the positive vibe and everyone is acting like we are all part of the same family.
“People are identifying with us and we are uniting Moroccan people. That is more important than money and titles, but we are here to win games and go as far as we can in this tournament.”
Portugal boss Fernando Santos rejected the notion that Ronaldo was ready to walk out on the national team after his demotion against Switzerland.
“I spoke to him after lunch on the day of the game and invited him into my office. For obvious reasons, Cristiano was not very happy about it. He’s always been the starting player.
“He asked me: ‘Do you really think it’s a good idea?’. But we had a frank and normal conversation in which I explained my viewpoints and he accepted them.
“I think it’s high time to leave Ronaldo alone. He’s never told me he wants to leave our national team and I think it’s high time that we stop with this conversation, that we stop with the polemics.”
Below are the projected starting lineups for both teams ahead of their match at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday, December 10.
Morocco projected starting 11
(4-3-3, right to left): 1. Bounou (GK) — 2. Hakimi, 5. Aguerd, 6. Saiss, 3. Mazraoui — 8. Ounahi, 4. Amrabat, 15. Amallah — 7. Ziyech, 19. En-Nesyri, 17. Boufal.
- Injured: Sofiane Boufal, Nayef Aguerd.
- Suspended: None.
Morocco are walking wounded after expending significant energy against Spain. The critical duo of Sofiane Boufal and Nayef Aguerd were both substituted off against La Roja due to injuries. Boufal especially would be a huge loss, as he’s been one of the best midfielders at the World Cup.
The absence of Amine Harit, who was ruled out before the tournament, has clearly affected Morocco’s goalscoring threat.
Morocco have three players sitting on yellow cards who would be suspended if they are booked and the team advances, with key midfielder Sofyan Amrabat joined by Abdelhamid Sabiri and captain Romain Saiss.
Portugal projected starting 11
(4-3-1-2, right to left): 22. Costa (GK) — 2. Dalot, 3. Pepe, 4. Dias, 5. Guerreiro — 25. Otavio, 14. Carvalho, 10. Silva — 8. Fernandes — 26. Ramos, 11. Felix.
- Injured: Nuno Mendes, Danilo Pereira.
- Suspended: None.
There are no fresh injury concerns coming into this match for Portugal. They are without Diogo Jota, who was ruled out pre-tournament, and Nuno Mendes will take no further part in the World Cup after an injury in the Uruguay match.
The biggest question is to the fitness of Danilo Pereira, who is hoping to recover from broken ribs in time to see the field. And, of course, whether Ronaldo plays.
Tactically, it’s very likely that young star forward Ramos will start again over Cristiano Ronaldo after his stunning hat-trick last time out. Fernando Santos will also have to choose between Raphael Guerreiro or Joao Cancelo at left-back, with the former preferred against Switzerland to great effect.
Portugal have a whopping five players in danger of a yellow-card suspension with another booking, all of them important pieces of the puzzle, with Danilo joined by Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, and Ruben Neves.
Morocco vs Portugal World Cup squads
Here are the 26 names on the current Morocco and Portugal World Cup squads in Qatar:
Morocco World Cup squad
|Goalkeeper||Yassine Bounou||Sevilla (SPA)||31||45|
|Goalkeeper||Munir||Al Wehda (KSA)||33||43|
|Goalkeeper||Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti||Wydad (MOR)||26||3|
|Defender||Achraf Hakimi||PSG (FRA)||24||53|
|Defender||Noussair Mazraoui||Bayern Munich (GER)||24||14|
|Defender||Romain Saiss||Besiktas (TUR)||32||65|
|Defender||Nayef Aguerd||West Ham (ENG)||26||21|
|Defender||Achraf Dari||Brest (FRA)||23||4|
|Defender||Jawad El-Yamiq||Valladolid (SPA)||30||11|
|Defender||Yahi Attain-Allal||Wydad (MOR)||27||1|
|Defender||Badr Benoun||Qatar SC (QAT)||29||3|
|Midfielder||Sofyan Amrabat||Fiorentina (ITA)||26||38|
|Midfielder||Selim Ramallah||Standard Liege (BEL)||25||23|
|Midfielder||Abdelhamid Sabiri||Sampdoria (ITA)||25||2|
|Midfielder||Azzedine Ounahi||Angers (FRA)||22||9|
|Midfielder||Bilel El Khanouss||Genk (BEL)||18||0|
|Midfielder||Yahya Jabrane||Wydad (MOR)||31||4|
|Forward||Hakim Ziyech||Chelsea (ENG)||24||42|
|Forward||Youssef En-Nesyri||Sevilla (SPA)||25||49|
|Forward||Sofiane Boufal||Angers (FRA)||29||31|
|Forward||Zaharia Aboukhlal||Toulouse (FRA)||22||12|
|Forward||EZ Abde||Osasuna (SPA)||20||1|
|Forward||Anass Zaroury||Burnley (ENG)||22||0|
|Forward||Ilias Chair||QPR (ENG)||25||10|
|Forward||Abderrazak Hamdallah||Al Ittihad (KSA)||31||17|
|Forward||Walid Cheddira||Bari (ITA)||24||2|
Portugal World Cup squad
|Goalkeeper||Rui Patricio||Roma (ITA)||34||104|
|Goalkeeper||Jose Sa||Wolves (ENG)||29||0|
|Goalkeeper||Diogo Costa||Porto (POR)||23||7|
|Defender||Raphael Guerreiro||Borussia Dortmund (GER)||28||56|
|Defender||Diogo Dalot||Manchester United (ENG)||23||6|
|Defender||Antonio Silva||Benfica (POR)||19||0|
|Defender||Ruben Dias||Manchester City (ENG)||25||39|
|Defender||Nuno Mendes||PSG (FRA)||20||16|
|Defender||Danilo Pereira||PSG (FRA)||31||63|
|Defender||Joao Cancelo||Manchester City (ENG)||28||37|
|Midfielder||Joao Palhinha||Fulham (ENG)||27||15|
|Midfielder||Bruno Fernandes||Manchester United (ENG)||28||48|
|Midfielder||Bernardo Silva||Manchester City (ENG)||28||72|
|Midfielder||Matheus Nunes||Wolves (ENG)||24||9|
|Midfielder||William Carvalho||Real Betis (ESP)||30||75|
|Midfielder||Joao Mario||Benfica (POR)||29||52|
|Midfielder||Ruben Neves||Wolves (ENG)||25||32|
|Forward||Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United (ENG)||37||191|
|Forward||Ricardo Horta||Braga (POR)||28||5|
|Forward||Rafael Leao||AC Milan (ITA)||23||11|
|Forward||Joao Felix||Atletico Madrid (SPA)||22||23|
|Forward||Goncalo Ramos||Benfica (POR)||21||0|
|Forward||Andre Silva||RB Leipzig (GER)||26||51|