Michy Batshuayi’s heroics on the stroke of half-time fired De Rode Duivels to a confidence-boosting 1-0 win over Canada on day one, but that was far more than they deserved to be honest.
Roberto Martinez’s decision to field Belgium’s oldest World Cup starting line-up since 1998 was the one he came to regret early on as the Canadians wiped the floor with his men in the opening stages.
If Alphonso Davies could’ve beaten Thibaut Courtois from the spot in the 11th minute, who knows what the outcome would be, as the second-placed nation in the FIFA rankings performed below expectations.
Speaking of uneventful performances, Morocco’s opening-day game against Croatia was one of the least entertaining matches at the tournament, as evidenced by a dull 0-0 full-time score.
Apart from Achraf Hakimi’s thunderous strike from a long-range free-kick, Walid Regragui’s men barely had sight of Dominik Livakovic’s goal but did well to keep the Croats at bay.
However, the Moroccans’ wait for their first win at the World Cup finals since 1998 goes on, even though the Atlas Lions enjoyed plenty of support at Al Bayt Stadium last time out.
Belgium weathered the storm against Canada, featuring the North Americans’ whopping 22 attempts on goal, to post their eighth straight World Cup group stage triumph.
Sunday will be a landmark day for De Rode Duivels as it will mark their 50th match at the World Cup finals, a feat managed by only 11 other nations.
If you’re looking for an omen, only two of the previous 11 teams have lost their 50th World Cup fixture (W8, D1), strengthening Martinez’s bid to take his team into the knockout stage with a game to spare.
Since a 3-0 thrashing of Scotland in the 1998 group stages, the Moroccans have gone winless in their subsequent four World Cup outings (D2, L2), failing to find the net in three of those.
Scoring has been a genuine problem for Morocco at the world’s most prestigious international tournament, as they’ve drawn a blank in 53% of their all-time World Cup games (9/17).
Thereby the Atlas Lions faithful should not be surprised their nation laments a dreadful record of a mere two wins from 17 World Cup matches (D6, L9).
Belgium vs Morocco Head-to-Head
Belgium faced Morocco at the 1994 World Cup and grabbed a narrow 1-0 victory, courtesy of Marc Degryse’s winner. The teams have since squared off twice in friendly encounters.
After a clear-cut 4-0 triumph in 1999, the Belgians lost their most recent showdown against the CAF heavyweights, going down 4-1 in 2008. On the evidence of the H2H stakes, this can go both ways.
Belgium vs Morocco Potential Line-ups
Belgium (3-4-2-1): Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Leander Dendoncker; Thomas Meunier, Amadou Onana, Axel Witsel, Yannick Carrasco; Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard; Michy Batshuayi.
Morocco (4-3-3): Bono; Achraf Hakimi, Nayef Aguerd, Romain Saiss, Noussair Mazraoui; Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah; Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En-Nesyri, Sofiane Boufal.
Belgium vs Morocco Prediction
After Belgium’s stuttering start to the tournament, their victory over Morocco is not a foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination, regardless of what the bookmakers have to say.
While there’s no denying Martinez can still call upon some of Europe’s most standout entertainers, even those well past their prime, we can see the Moroccans snatching points away from De Rode Duivels.
Belgium 1-1 Morocco
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World Cup 2022 Links
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