Portugal v Morocco: Will Ronaldo pick up where he left off?
Charlie Dear | 19 June 2018
Portugal looking to get their first three points
Group B both featured last-gasp goals in both matches in the first round of games.
Morocco got hit with the sucker-punch as a 95th minute own goal saw them lose 0-1 to Iran.
Whereas with less than five minutes to go Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-kick salvaged a point for Portugal against Spain in a three-all thriller.
There are no injury worries but Gelson Martins or Joao Mario may replace Bruno Fernandes in the starting line-up.
Martins is amongst a group of players from Sporting Lisbon in the midst of real club uncertainty.
It looks as though he may move on after the tournament and will want to impose himself as early as possible.
Morocco will have to do without Nordin Amrabat though, as the Watford man is suffering from concussion.
Wolves’ man Romain Saiss will continue to partner Mehdi Benatia in defence whilst Younes Belhanda will hope to make an impact.
Despite losing their first game, Morocco have some big-names plying their trade in Europe.
Achraf Hakimi played a part in Real Madrid’s Champions League winning journey alongside Ronaldo.
Captain Mehdi Benatia has played at the top level for years in Germany and Italy respectively.
As well names such as Amrabat, Belhanda and Hakim Ziyech should be familiar to European football fans.
They came out firing against Iran and monopolised the possession. Ziyech looked like he could create something against Iran but Ayoub El Kaabi will need to get off the mark.
But despite looking the most dangerous side they’ll need a positive result to avoid going home early.
Morocco know it’s almost all or nothing in this one but boss Herve Renard might just be hoping Ronaldo has an off day.
The Ronaldo effect
The Portuguese talisman dragged his side through to grab a late draw against Spain.
His three-goals have already catapulted him to top-scorer and he could extend his lead in the race for the golden boot here.
Bernardo Silva and veteran Ricardo Quaresma can come up with a moment of brilliance and midfielder William Carvalho will be watched by a host of Premier League clubs this summer.
However, it’s Ronaldo that thrusts his team forward and gets them playing again.
It’s moments that can decide a game. And there are not many other men who really comes close to creating these indelible memories.
Notching another hat-trick would be outrageous but if the Atlas Lions can’t shackle Ronaldo then Portugal might just start roaring again.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing