World Cup 2022 Diary: Day 17. Round Of 16: Spain 0 Morocco 0 (Morocco win on pens), Portugal 6 Switzerland 1. Coach Fernando Santos replaced Cristiano Ronaldo with untested Gonçalo Ramos who responded with a hat-trick for Portugal.
Gonçalo Ramos Arrives At World Cup With A Hat-Trick For Portugal
By Dave Bowler
The knockout stages finally gave up their first real upset as Morocco defeated Spain. They took the long way home to do it, sending one of the competition favourites out on penalties.
sdxx Upset though it was, it was also predictable in its way for we had seen Spain lose in precisely the same fashion to Japan at the end of the group stage just a few days ago. Pass, pass, pass, pass, then eventually fail to score. Morocco, defensively as sound as pretty well any team in the tournament, must have soaked up the video of that game just as well as they soaked up the Spanish attacks.
Scoring goals of their own is something that Morocco do not excel in, but when you get to the knockout stage, that need not be a problem as long as you can keep a clean sheet. They took the game all the way to penalties with barely a scare along the way, bar Sarabia’s shot which clipped the post after 123 minutes.
Spain Miss Three Penalties
When it came to the spot kicks, you might have thought that Spain’s technically gifted players, who had again put together well over 1,000 passes in the game, would have been the favourites. Yet they produced three penalties so inept, they made Japan’s from yesterday look convincing. Possibly they thought the aim was to pass to Bono in the Moroccan goal, which certainly gave Morocco the edge in the shootout. Sorry…
For Spain, perhaps every bit as much as earlier casualties such as Germany, this result must lead to some dark nights of the soul. The nation that revolutionised the game with tiki-taka a decade and a half ago, they must now question whether their unquestioning devotion to possession has gone from being a lethal weapon to a fatal fetish. What shall it profit a team if they shall keep the ball for the whole game and still lose? It is a method ingrained in their footballing culture, but perhaps it is time for change?
For Morocco, into the World Cup’s last eight for the first time, the question is how much further can they go? There is something about the Greece of the 2004 Euros about them. They are indomitable in defence, organised, determined, gutsy. They were the polar opposite of the way South Korea set up against Brazil last night and not only did they avoid humiliation, they won the game. Unlike the Euros, the World Cup has never had a real outlier as its winner. It seems highly unlikely that Morocco might be the side that changes that, but it has to happen sometime…
Portugal In the Mood As Ronaldo Benched
They’ll need to get past Portugal first and, however well they defend, if Portugal are in the same mood as tonight when they simply thrashed the Swiss, their chances don’t look great. In a round where France, Brazil and England in particular have issued statements of intent, Portugal joined their ranks with one of the most impressive displays of the competition.
That they did most of the work while Ronaldo was on the bench was fascinating to say the least. Demoted either as a disciplinary measure after his obvious displeasure at being substituted in the previous game, or because the old legs aren’t quite as mobile as once they were, it was a big call by Portugal’s boss Santos. He must have been thrilled and relieved in equal measure as replacement Gonçalo Ramos, with 33 minutes of international football behind him before tonight, opened the scoring on 17 minutes and went on to score the tournament’s first hat-trick.
The game was finished as a contest at 4-0 some ten minutes into the second half, the Swiss limiting the damage to 6-1 by the end of the game, which might be seen as some consolation given the carnage that might have been inflicted. It was a mighty display from Portugal, most particularly from their younger players, which was perhaps its most exciting facet. Morocco might be the absolute outsiders but Portugal could yet be this World Cup’s dark horses.
Things are about to get interesting.
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Sir Alf Ramsey: England 1973 focuses on the final full year of Sir Alf’s reign as England boss. The nation that won the World Cup in 1966 failed to even qualify for the 1974 tournament. Ramsey was suddenly a man out of time, both on and off the pitch. The failing fortunes of the England team mirrored those of a post-Empire nation heading for its own a fall.
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