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Spain vs Morocco
2018 FIFA World Cup - Group B
Spain have rescued a draw with an injury time goal to Iago Aspas securing a 2-2 result against Morocco that sees the Spaniards top their group and advance to a round of 16 tie match-up against hosts Russia.
Morocco were on the verge of producing a terrific upset when Youseff En-Nesyri headed past De Gea late in the second half. Spain however regrouped and managed to score late through substitute Aspas, who did well to finish despite protests of offside.
Despite topping the group, Spain are vulnerable but will nevertheless be happy with the fact that they are facing hosts Russia, who are nowhere near as dangerous as two time champions Uruguay.
Morocco meanwhile exit the tournament have secured a draw, coupled with narrow 1 nil defeats to Iran and Portugal. They have punched above their weight in this group and go home with their pride well intact.
Spanish coach Fernando Hierro though has plenty to work on for Spain. Their defence in particular is extremely vulnerable when defending counter attacks and the Russians will fancy their chances of exploiting this area in the knockout stages.
The best player on the park tonight for Spain was Andres Iniesta. The magician shows no signs of slowing down at 34 years of age and he remains the wonderful technician that led Spain to the 2010 World Cup.
If Iniesta can continue to lead in midfield, Spain will always remain a threat in this tournament and now will fancy their chances of securing a quarter-final birth when they tackle the hosts in a few days time.
2010 world champions Spain will be favoured to secure qualification into the knockout stages when they face a Morocco team already eliminated from the World Cup. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 4am AEST.
Despite sitting on four points, Spain have played some enterprising football so far in Russia but still need to improve if they hope to put away a brave Morocco outfit tonight.
Morocco with better finishing could have easily nabbed positive results against Iran and Portugal respectively. Narrow 1-nil losses in both games however has left them with no chance of progressing into the knockout stages.
Spain have had no such issues however upfront, with Diego Costa having already scored 3 goals, including a fine double against Euro champions Portugal in the opening game.
Of course, Spain should be expected to boss possession tonight as wonderful technicians such as David Silva, Andres Iniesta, Koke, Sergio Busquets and Thiago Alcantara look to control proceedings in midfield.
With that said, Spain were very fortunate not to draw against Iran, who had a goal disallowed after appearing to have equalised in the second half.
The fact that Spain only scored the solitary goal against Iran proves that the 2010 world champions are still struggling at times to put teams away.
And with Portugal and Iran still with big chances of progressing, Spain can ill-afford any complacency tonight against an opponent keen on spoiling Spanish dreams.
Morocco have toiled hard in this tournament and should be expected to show up ready to compete despite having nothing to play for. Spain at their best though should get the job done in a competitive contest.
Spain to win 2-nil
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