Posted on: December 1, 2022, 12:36h.
Last updated on: December 1, 2022, 12:46h.
Morocco may have been seen as a sleeper team before the FIFA World Cup began, but not anymore. Their win against Canada on Thursday didn’t make a difference in terms of advancement to the Round of 16, but it helped show what the team is capable of achieving.
Morocco qualified for the Round of 16 of the World Cup for the second time in its history. They played a determined match against Canada on Thursday, and are no longer outsiders for championship contention.
Morocco sits higher than the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) to take down the World Cup. They don’t have a huge advantage, but the sportsbooks like what they see so far.
Morocco Surprises Soccer World
The Moroccans hadn’t made it past the group stage since their participation in Mexico in 1986. They were ahead of Croatia, who drew 0-0 with Belgium in the other Group F match.
Hakim Ziyech opened the scoring for Morocco after just four minutes following a blunder by Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan. That left the winger in line to finish off an empty net, and Youssef En-Nesyri then made the second goal at minute 23.
Nayef Aguerd’s own goal just before half-time made it 2-1, and Canada searched for an equalizer for most of the second half. It almost happened, but a kick by Atiba Hutchinson hit the crossbar and ricocheted away, ending any chance of success.
Canada, which will co-host the next World Cup with the US and Mexico in 2026, says goodbye with three losses. They repeated the performance of their only previous World Cup appearance, which occurred at the 1986 games in Mexico.
Croatia moved into the Round of 16 after drawing 0-0 against Belgium on Thursday. The group stage elimination is likely to dismantle a talented generation, as a number of star players are reaching the end of their careers.
The Croatians, who finished second in Group F behind Morocco, reached at least the semi-finals on each of the two occasions they’ve advanced to the knockout stage. Belgium, number two in the world, was left out after scoring just one goal in three games. They lost control after initially presenting themselves as a possible candidate for the title.
Group Stage Draws to a Close
The third and last day of the group stage is here, and it’s already removing additional pieces. So far, the World Cup has been a very even tournament, and the numbers confirm that impression. Only three teams (France, Brazil, and Portugal) won their first two games. In some previous tournaments, Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018, seven teams accomplished that feat.
For now, there are two teams that have been left without any chance of advancing in the tournament, Canada and Qatar, both of which lost their first two games.
There are still tense games on tap on Thursday as teams try to vie for position. They all have their eyes on December 18, when the two best teams meet in the final, decisive battle.
Spain, which faces Japan shortly, is undoubtedly one of the teams that’s emerged since its world conquest in 2010. This time, it had a tough competitor in its group in Germany, who’s always a heavyweight in World Cup competition.
Spain is getting -260 on Tipico on Thursday, while Japan is at +750. The latter has already shown that it can’t be easily dismissed and experts expect this will be a tight game.
Brazil is still out in front to win the tournament, followed by France and Argentina. Spain and England are next, while the USMNT is lower on the list. If they can get past the Netherlands on Saturday, everything could change.