After 120 minutes of physical suffering with an iron mind, followed by a dramatic penalty shootout, the Atlas Lions clinched their first historic appearance in the quarter-finals of the World Cup (3-1 at TAB ). This golden generation has won a special place in the history of Moroccan football and the hopes are only greater.
Dramatic, ecstatic, legendary, the successful match by the Atlas Lions on Tuesday against Spain will go down in the annals of Moroccan football. the Morocco actually joined the Cameroonthe Ghana and the Senegal in the rank of African countries having reached the quarter-finals of a World Cup. In the presence of all its holders, Walid Regragui changed practically nothing in his strategy on Tuesday, ceding the ball to the opponent by again opting for a low defensive block. Spain, it, invested the Moroccan half of the field from the start, sending outright eight players on the Moroccan rectangle. The “Matadors” came up against an impermeable defensive wall at the start of the match, they who monopolized the ball without managing to test Yassine Bounou. In the 11th minute, the Atlas Lions signed the first free chance of the match, with a direct free kick from Hakimi which grazed the crossbar.
Over the minutes, the teammates of Romain Saiss gained confidence and allowed themselves threatening counterattacks, relying mainly on the speed and technicality of Boufal, who had fun on the left lane against Marco Llorente. The 25th minute marked the first Spanish attempt, with a shot from Gavi on the crossbar then another from Asensio, blocked by Amrabat, but the referee whistled for offside. After half an hour of play, the Moroccans won on almost all of the second balls, thanks to a very inspired center line in terms of recovery. One of the balls stolen from the Spaniards in their half of the field then led to the first shot on target of the match, signed Wessir Mazraoui who almost unlocked the 35-meter counter. In the 42nd minute, Boufal made the powder speak again on the opposing surface and eliminated three defenders with a feint, before serving Nayef Aguerd who narrowly missed the target with a header.
The first half thus ended exactly according to the scenario planned by Walid Regragui: a Spanish selection dominating possession without being able to concretize (0 shots on target) and the Atlas Lions very dangerous in the offensive transition phase and closer to the goal. opening of the score.
The Moroccan defensive curtain put to the test
After the change to the locker room, the second period started with the same spirit. La Roja thus granted themselves a first shot on target, in the 54th minute, repelled with authority by Yassine Bounou. Just after the hour mark, Luis Enrique tried to deal with the lack of attacking solutions by replacing Asensio and Gavi with Soler and Morata. Walid Regragui, he changed position by position, sending a player who knows his opponents very well for having been trained at the “Masia”: Abdessamad Ezzelzouli (in place of Boufal). The Iberians pushed their attacking pressure further after the substitutions, but the Moroccan defensive machine was still intractable. Sofyan Amrabat excelled again in this second period, with a surprising volume of play and interventions as muscular as they were fair. Ten minutes from the end of regulation time, Walid Regragui sent Abdelhamid Sabiri, Yahya Attiat Allah and for the first time Walid Cheddira onto the pitch (in place of Mazraoui, Amallah and Ennesyri). Immediately after this change, Aguerd also left the pitch under the effect of an injury that he had dragged on since the first half. Cheddira immediately signed his first attempt in the 85th minute, on a counter led by Ziyech and Hakimi. After a last action brilliantly repelled by Bounou, the Argentinian referee Rapallini whistled the end of the regulation 90 minutes.
Cheddira misses the break twice
Extra time started on the rhythm of a good breakaway from Walid Cheddira, who almost deceived the vigilance of the opposing defense. The entry into play of Ansu Fati and Alejandro Baldé pushed the Lions back another notch, still suffering the Iberian tidal wave. In the 103rd minute, Cheddira found himself face-to-face with Spanish goalkeeper Simon, but missed miserably by shooting at the keeper’s feet. The first extra time also ended with a successful clearance from Bounou and the tension continued to climb, especially given the fatigue that gripped both sides. In the second overtime, Cheddira escaped once again but still struggled to adjust his strike. The Atlas Lions continued to suffer physically, never flinching with an iron mind. Jaouad El Yamiq averted the danger for the last time in the 122nd minute and the ordeal of the shots on goal finally imposed itself to decide between the two teams. This exercise started to the advantage of the Moroccans, who took advantage of a miss from Sarabia on the first shot. Bounou also pushed back the second, then the third, despite Banoune’s failure. Hakimi allowed himself a flick and propelled the Lions to the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time in the history of Moroccan football. The Hakimi generation is this time, and for good, legendary!
Walid Regragui: This is historic for Morocco
Arrived barely three months ago at the head of the national team to replace Vahid Halilhodzic, dismissed from his functions, Walid Regragui is writing one of the best pages of Moroccan football. Thrilled after Hakimi’s shot on goal synonymous with qualification, Walid Regragui let his joy burst, like all of his players and members of his technical staff. “It’s historic for Morocco! For Africa! I believe that since 2010, no African selection had reached the quarter-finals”, savored Walid Regragui at the microphone of beIN sport.
The coach then praised the tactical work of his players who showed great discipline. “We said we were coming to represent Africa, that we had raised our level. You saw it tactically, we were huge and we left nothing to the Spaniards. The important thing was to give the maximum, not to have the slightest regret and, in the end, it was the penalty shoot-out, we needed a little luck we were not going to ignite. But we knew we had a great goalkeeper, one of the best in the world, who could take us to the quarter-finals”, he rejoiced at the microphone of beIN Sports. The Atlas Lions have four days to recover and prepare for their quarter-final, scheduled for Saturday, December 10 at 4 p.m.
Yassine Bounou: Hats off to the whole team, they did the job
Yassine Bounou sickened the Spanish penalty takers. The Sevilla goalkeeper repelled two Spanish attempts, propelling Morocco to the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time in their history. Despite this great performance, Bounou refused any triumphalism, preferring to evoke the luck factor: “Penalties are a little bit of intuition, a bit of luck. We won, that’s the most important thing, ”analyzed the Sevillian doorman at the microphone of beIN sports.
Bounou also congratulated his teammates who never gave up: “Hats off to the whole team, they did the job, it was incredible. It’s not easy to stay focused for 120 minutes, against a Spanish team who dominate the ball well, who have possession (…) We will try to stay focused on yourself, on your job, on your recovery . And then face the next match with this desire, this pleasure that we see in the eyes of all the players. If the Atlas Lions show the same desire and the same determination, they have a good chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Sofyan Amrabat: I couldn’t abandon the guys and my country
Aligned against Spain, despite his back injury. Sofyan Amrabat was in tears after Morocco qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup at the expense of Spain. the Fiorentina player delivered an XXL match against the Spanish offensive armada. “I’m very emotive. I didn’t know if I could play this game. Last night I stayed up until 3am with the physio, I had an injection before the game too. I couldn’t abandon the guys and my country,” he said before shedding a few tears.
Present in the duels and in the offensive raises, Amrabat is one of the best players in the competition in his position. His volume of play and his physical impact bring more security to the midfield of the Atlas Lions. An essential player in Walid Regragui’s system, Sofyan Amrabat splashed his talent in the match against Spain in the round of 16 of the World Cup, Qatar 2022. The Fiorentina player was in the oven and in the mill, making each time aborting the Spanish attempts or triggering the Moroccan attacks. A considerable effort for the player who defied the injury to help his partners.
We would love to say thanks to the author of this write-up for this awesome material
Morocco-Spain: The Lions of Regragui definitely legendary
Explore our social media profiles as well as other pages related to themhttps://nimblespirit.com/related-pages/