Portugal will start as the clear favourite when they take on close neighbours Morocco, in what will be only the second fixture between the two nations. Morocco have the upper hand in the head to head standings – they won their only encounter at the 1986 World Cup, a match that sent Portugal home early and also led the Africans to their first foray into the second round.
Yet the 2018 version of Portugal is a far cry from the 1986 squad. The Europeans are fresh off the back of their maiden continental title, and boast one of the greatest players of all time in Cristiano Ronald. We saw what they are capable of throughout the matches leading up to the tournament, and Ronaldo’s wonderful hat trick saved the day against a strong Spanish team. It’s hard to see anything other than a Portuguese victory here.
The focus for both sides will be further improvement, although each team will understand the importance of a win in the second match during the group stage as it can make or break their progress. Portugal know that they have only Iran to face in the final match, while Morocco are still to face Spain, and really need to gain something from this match if they are to entertain thoughts of qualification.
Portugal are well ahead of the Morocco in the FIFA rankings, almost 40 places in fact, and while the standings sometimes lie, we think it’s a fairly accurate representation of the gulf between the teams. While it’s true that anything can happen on the soccer field, we don’t think that Morocco will get close to Portugal, and it’s more a case of ‘by how many’ when considering the European Champions here.
The beauty of soccer is that you rarely get a situation where the favourite’s price is unfeasible, because there’s always the chance of a draw. In this match, Portugal start at -182, which in our opinion is very generous. Only a miracle can prevent Portugal not getting the three points here, and although we’ve seen some shocks so far at this World Cup, this won’t be an occasion when we are surprised.
Morocco start at +502 outsiders, while the draw is priced at +299. Both options simply do not offer the value they should, and we wouldn’t recommend either. We’re confident in the win for Portugal, and are predicting a straight forward 2-0 victory.