World Cup 2018: Group B Preview, Part 1 (Portugal, Morocco)

Portugal

Current FIFA Rankings: 4

World Cup appearance: 7th time in 2018

World Cup 2014: Round of 16

World Cup 2018: Group B
Source: YouTube

Portugal has played their first ever World Cup in 1966 and they became 3rd in that tournament. That was a sort of their arrival message to rest of the football world. But the Portuguese failed to add their name to the next four World Cup’s final stage. However, Eusebio the legend has to be credited for the maximum of the Portuguese’s achievement in that ’66 World Cup.

And then, Ronaldo showed the Portuguese’s some hope after Eusebio. But it seems like, he is going to Russia to play his very last World Cup. Although, after winning their first ever Euro title in 2016 and win 9 out of those 10 matches qualifies, Cristiano Ronaldo and his team are in a jolly mood. But World Cup has always been a big test for them.

Milan striker André Silva has given a very good sign in the qualifies that he can be a good partner to his captain Ronaldo in the attacking department.

The experienced Pepe and Bruno Alvzadera’s has the responsibility to maintain their defence side. They have a great combination of well experienced Quaresma and Joao Moutinho with some amazing new faces in the midfield. It is expected that they will provide some goal scoring passes to Ronaldo and other strikers.

World Cup 2018 Portugal Ronaldo
Source: Eurosport

Coach Fernando Santos announced the final squad for World Cup 2018. He leaves out 10 members of his Euro 16 winning team. However, most of the players who have dropped are mainly facing issues with their recent form and injuries as well.

Portugal World Cup squad

COACH: Fernando Santos

GOALKEEPERS: Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyonnais), Beto (Goztepe), Rui Patricio (Sporting)

DEFENDERS: Bruno Alves (Rangers), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang), Mario Rui (Napoli), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica)

MIDFIELDERS: Adrien Silva (Leicester), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), Joao Mario (West Ham United), Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco), Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow), William Carvalho (Sporting)

FORWARDS: Andre Silva (Milan), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gelson Martins (Sporting), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas)

Now it’s time to see how far Ronaldo can take his team in his probable last World Cup.

Morocco

Current FIFA Rankings: 42

World Cup appearances: 5th time in 2018

World Cup 2014: Did not qualify.

This is the first time since 1998, this north African team has qualified for the World Cup. They have reached to the second round in 1970 for only once in their history of the World Cup. Now, being qualified after so many years, they are going to Russia with a minimum expectation like that.

World Cup 2018 Morocco
Source: YouTube

They have topped the list of Group C from African region to qualify for the World Cup. They have eliminated the ‘Elephant of Africa’ Ivory Coast on the path of their journey to Russia.

Juventus Defender Mehdi Benatia is the biggest star player of Moroccan team. And I might say they have a strong midfield with experts like M’barek Boussoufa and Younes Belhanda within.

In the attacking department, they have Karim El-Ahmadi and the emerging stars like Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech. It is fair to say, this Moroccan side is a well-balanced team. Herve Renard, who won the African Nations Cup for Zambia and Ivory Coast, is in charge of the team. Therefore, Moroccans can expect something good from him

Morocco World cup squad

COACH: Herve Renard

GOALKEEPERS: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia), Yassine Bounou (Girona), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger)

DEFENDERS: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus), Romain Saiss (Wolves), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid), Hamza Mendyl (LOSC)

MIDFIELDERS: M’barek Boussoufa (Al Jazira), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Faycal Fajr (Getafe), Amine Harit (Schalke 04)

FORWARDS: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor), Aziz Bouhaddouz (Saint Pauli), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes), Mehdi Carcela (Standard de Liege), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax).

One last word, after seeing the Moroccans with the red-green jersey put on, whether you will react with enjoying or regretting on Bangladesh, it’s all up to you.

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