Morocco v Spain
Morocco are one of just three unbeaten sides so far this tournament, which is a big achievement considering they were in a tough group with Belgium and Croatia. They’ve been defensively sound, not conceding against either of the aforementioned sides, while a Nayef Aguerd own goal gave Canada a consolation in their last match, so we can’t see Spain running away with this like they did against Costa Rica.
After opening their account with that statement win, Spain played out a tame draw with Germany before losing from ahead against Japan in what was an unconvincing performance. Los Rojos head into this one as heavy favourites, and the value looks like it could be with the African side.
This is a repeat of the third Group Stage match of the 2018 World Cup, a game that finished 2-2 and is the last time Spain have faced a CAF side. They have a W8-D2-L2 record against such sides since 1990, though have won just three of their last six such games and Morocco, while the North African side’s recent record against UEFA teams is a strong W5-D3-L1 going back to the beginning of 2018. In fact, going back 35 matches against such sides in the last 32 years, Morocco have only lost two by more than a single strike, and we’ll back them to keep this close.
Despite the flood gates opening against Costa Rica, Spain have somewhat struggled for output in their games since, with Alvaro Morata the only player getting on the scoresheet in the two games since that thumping. Morocco have the best defensive record in the competition so far, and that makes them a strong price on the handicap.
MOROCCO +1 HANDICAP
Portugal v Switzerland
Despite suffering defeat to Korea in their final outing, Portugal still remain strong contenders to go all the way with the talent they’ve got in their squad. This is a stage that a Selecao often falter at though, having only once progressed past the Last 16 since the round was introduced in 1986. That occasion was back in 2006, when they beat Netherlands 1-0 to reach the quarters, which incidentally was the last time they managed to beat a fellow UEFA Nation at the world Cup (D2-L4 since). It should be noted though that those sides were Spain (twice), Germany (twice), France and England, and Switzerland pose less of a threat than those sides.
Switzerland have won five of their last six competitive matches now, with the exception coming in a narrow defeat to Brazil courtesy of a late Casemiro goal. That run has included impressive victories over Spain and Portugal in the Nations League too, so they certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The Swiss have reached the Last-16 in five of their last six World Cups, though have failed to progress further in any of them, and that’s a real thorn in their side at the moment. Neither side are a shoe in to win this, and we’d expect a hard fought game of fine margins.
Both Teams to Score looks like the right bet here at the price. While we had a low scoring group stage, goals have picked up since with five of the six games at the time of writing finishing with over 2.5 goals, while five of six have also seen both teams find the net as teams are far less conservative in the latter stages. Fernando Santos’ side have a tendency to be negative at times, and that will invite Shaquiri, Embolo and co. on to them. They also have the attacking potency to find the net, as they have done in every match so far, and at an odds against price we’ll back both teams to find the net.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
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