Belgium vs Morocco Prediction
27th November 2022
16:00 Qatar Time/13:00 GMT
Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
Belgium vs Morocco Prediction Match Overview
Belgium vs Morocco, the second game for both sides in Group F, will see a Belgian side who, despite getting over the line in their opening match against Canada, will realise that performances must improve across the board because they were extremely fortunate to win that game. Morocco will be hoping for a result of any kind here to give them a chance of reaching the round of 16 in their final group match against Canada. The group can be considered wide open at this point and it’s anybody’s guess as to who emerges from Group F.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play: Lukaku (Belgium); Hakimi (Morocco)
Will not play:
Belgium vs Morocco Prediction Analysis
Possible Changes from the First Matches
While Belgium are leading the group with 3 points and Morocco drew with Croatia, the Moroccans will be the happier of the two sides going into their second group game. The Belgians, to the surprise of many, were outplayed for large periods of their opening match with Canada and relied upon a couple of moments of brilliance to end the Canadian’s resistance, with a superb 60-yard through ball from Toby Alderweireld finished emphatically by Michy Batshuayi. The Canadians were unable to convert a host of chances and had Belgium on the back foot for much of the game. As we’ve seen with other games at the tournament, the possession stat can be deceptive. Belgium had 54% of the possession but Canada attacked with precision and purpose, and the Belgians should be thankful that the Canadians left their shooting boots in the dressing room.
Morocco proved to be obdurate opponents for a talented Croatia side as they managed to claim a 0-0 draw in which they were by no means outclassed. Though the Croatians enjoyed 65% of the possession as expected, Morocco restricted them to a handful of chances and they can be rightfully proud of having avoided a defeat to one of the group’s strongest teams on paper. However, rather than this being a plucky 0-0 draw, Morocco posed a significant threat from the flanks as predicted, and came close to unlocking the Croatian defence on several occasions.
It’s possible but perhaps unlikely that Romelu Lukaku will be preferred to Batshuayi, and indeed, Batshuayi may have earned the right to retain his place in the starting lineup following his hugely impressive strike. Hakimi is a slight doubt for Morocco; however, given his importance to the team not only as a World Class fullback but also as a crucial component in how this team plays, it’s highly likely that the PSG man will start in such an important game.
If Belgium don’t want to risk this game coming down to another moment of brilliance, they need to gain the upper hand in the wide areas, with Morocco boasting the talents of Hakimi, Mazraoui, Ziyech and Boufal. As a counterpoint, the Moroccans will be wary of granting Belgium’s midfielders too much space in the middle of the park so when out of possession it’s of paramount importance that Morocco’s wide men can drift inside to give them extra numbers in midfield. Belgium were unable to cope with the high-intensity approach of the Canadians at times, so we can expect Morocco to swarm out of possession and to spread the play quickly when they force turnovers.
As everybody already knows, the Belgians can call upon many high-class operators in the wing-back position, with the likes of Carrasco, Castagne, Meunier and Thorgan Hazard all proven performers at the highest level. They would have been defending in their own half far too often for the Belgian’s liking so it’s incumbent upon the likes of Onana and Witsel to provide a better platform for them to make those surging runs forward and to put the Moroccans on the back foot. This may go some way to negating the impressive threat that Morocco possesses from wide positions.
The absolute key to this match from the perspective of the Belgians will be to get their best player Kevin De Bruyne on the ball far more often and in more advanced positions. While this may appear to be a truism, it stands to reason that if De Bruyne receives the ball in more advanced areas with regularity then from there Belgium will have multiple avenues of attack. Belgium may look to play Everton’s Amadou Onana instead of Youri Tielemans to give the Belgian midfield a better chance of winning the midfield battle. We also think that Brighton’s Leandro Trossard will come in to displace Eden Hazard following an indifferent showing. De Bruyne also had an off-night and was reportedly bemused to be awarded MOTM, but he would have a much better opportunity to show what he can do with an extra midfield presence in there.
Although Morocco faded somewhat late on and the Croatians were eventually able to impose their renowned passing game on them, for much of the match they were able to dictate where the Croatians had the ball by shutting down the more dangerous passing lanes. Once they tired, they certainly weren’t afraid to get physical as the final foul count will attest to – 11 second-half fouls shows they have the will to impose themselves physically to ensure that the opposition will always be in for an uncomfortable night. While the Moroccans aren’t devoid of talent in central midfield – Fiorentina’s Amrabat in particular put in an excellent performance, ensuring that the Croatians weren’t able to regularly produce anything of consequence in that area, generally speaking, we will see the midfield tasked with winning possession and getting the ball out wide.
Sofiane Boufal was particularly poor for Morocco, so it remains to be seen if he is trusted for another starting berth here. His replacement Ez Abde is a talented young footballer but we’re unsure if he did enough to earn himself a place in the starting 11.
Belgium Key Players
Kevin De Bruyne
As stated earlier, the key to this game from the Belgian point of view is getting the Manchester man involved early and often. The longer this match remains at 0-0 and the more comfortable the Moroccans get, the harder it will be for the Belgians to play in between the lines to break them down. Belgium need to fight for the ball in the middle of the park and get their creator-in-chief on the ball with the sole aim of getting at the Moroccan backline. De Bruyne is at his best when receiving the ball on the turn and when he has multiple options at his disposal so the Belgians need to be better at providing the playmaker with more options in the final third.
Carrasco didn’t have a particularly bad game against the Canadians in truth. While his flank was repeatedly targeted, perhaps he didn’t get the support he required from the wide centre-back and midfielders, and could be considered unlucky to be brought off at halftime. Carrasco will be crucial for Belgium here because they didn’t have enough options in the final third, particularly in wide positions and if Belgium can give themselves a better platform in midfield, Carrasco will find himself able to get forward more often without fear of being exposed too regularly.
Morocco Key Players
The Moroccans will be hoping to see more of the same from Belgium in their second group outing, and therefore that they will continue to be exposed in wide positions which will suit the Moroccans down to the ground. If this is the case, Hakimi in particular will be hugely influential in creating opportunities both on the flank and by cutting inside to play as more of an attacking midfielder at times. If Belgium do not improve in the centre of midfield in particular then Hakimi certainly has the ability on the ball to hurt them.
As Amrabat ably demonstrated in their group opener against Croatia, he can shut down playmakers of the highest quality and will be relied upon in particular to ensure that Kevin De Bruyne receives the same treatment. It can be argued that he was the stand-out performer for both sides, and stating that his performance was industrious would not entirely be doing the Fiorentina man justice. Once again, Morocco need to gain a foothold in midfield to get their wide men involved, and if Amrabat can produce the goods again then Belgium could be in for another difficult game.
Belgium vs Morocco Prediction
We expect to see an improved Belgian performance here if Martinez can be relied upon to give the Belgians a better chance in the middle of the park. They may retain their back three while also sacrificing Eden Hazard for this one for another midfielder. This means they may be more solid than fluid, but if they get De Bruyne involved and the wide men in better positions then they could put in a better team performance. Morocco will be hopeful that Belgium carry on in the same vein because that would increase their chances of getting a result here. We’re going to say that Belgium can make the adjustments and win a keenly contested match.