2022 World Cup Preview, Predictions and Lineups: Morocco vs Portugal

Morocco and Portugal meet at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on Saturday as they meet in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Atlas Lions have been one of the surprise packages this winter, topping a group consisting of Croatia, Belgium and Canada, before defeating Spain on penalties in the last 16.

However, Portugal have also performed well in Qatar thus far, finishing in first place in Group H ahead of South Korea, Uruguay and Ghana before dismantling Switzerland 6-1 in their first knockout fixture. Below is our Morocco vs Portugal preview, predictions and potential lineups as the two sides are set to lock horns in their World Cup quarter-final matchup.

Morocco vs Portugal Preview

Morocco are the real dark horses of this year’s tournament and are still undefeated across all four of their World Cup games, conceding just one goal too. Their defensive structure and organisation has been impeccable and has been the key factor as to why Walid Regragui’s men have performed so well in Qatar.

After nullifying the fluid attacking movement of La Roja on Tuesday, Morocco held their nerve in the shootout to secure their spot in the last eight for the first time in their history, with star man Achraf Hakimi scoring the winning penalty with a Panenka, bettering their 1986 exit at the round of 16. It was nothing but a deserved win against a Spain team that lacked conviction in the final third.

Controversy surrounded the Portuguese national team heading into the tournament, of course, due to that man Cristiano Ronaldo. Rumours of in fighting and disagreements between the players prior to the start of the competition meant that Portugal seemed to be on the back foot but they’ve excelled this winter.

Head coach Fernando Santos even made the bold decision to drop both Ronaldo and Manchester City’s star full-back Joao Cancelo for their last 16 tie against Switzerland. It paid off, with Portugal putting in an incredible performance, taking apart the Swiss defense largely thanks to a wonderful display by Ronaldo’s replacement up top Goncalo Ramos.

Team News

The main talking point is whether Ronaldo will start for Santos. However, after the hat-trick hero showing by Ramos, it seems as though Ronaldo will have to settle for a place on the bench once more. Evidently, the 37-year-old is struggling a little to come to terms with the end of his career but he was full of smiles and encouragement for his teammates on the sideline against Switzerland.

The depth at full-back for Portugal is outrageous. With Cancelo dropping to the bench, Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro came in at left-back and put in a good performance, also getting on the scoresheet with a superb finish. Diogo Dalot is set to continue at right-back, despite not featuring in the opening two matches, whilst we haven’t even mentioned the injured Nuno Mendes.

Danilo Pereira is set to return back home to Paris with his tournament likely over due to a rib injury but he had only featured in one game in Qatar.

Morocco, however, are set to be without any major injury issues heading into the match here. Regragui will be delighted that he can continue to pick a fairly rigid lineup and continue their strong momentum into the last eight. However, West Ham United defender Nayef Aguerd was forced off against Spain due to injury and despite it not considered to be serious, he is a doubt ahead of this one. Aguerd has been excellent at the back next to Romain Saiss all tournament and would be a big miss.


Morocco and Portugal met at the last World Cup in Russia, being drawn together in Group B. Despite the Atlas Lions finishing bottom, they did pick up a 2-2 draw with Spain and only narrowly lost to Portugal 1-0. However, both Portugal and Morocco have very different teams from back then and Saturday’s clash is set to be disparate.

From the eleven that started against Portugal in 2018, just Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech remain that started against Spain on Tuesday, with the likes of Sofyan Amrabat, Youssef En Nesyri and Romain Saiss being left on the bench four years ago.

Ronaldo scored the only goal in the last game between the two sides but even he is susceptible to being benched these days. Veteran defender Pepe, however, remains a crucial figure at the back and the 39-year-old continues to be a stalwart in defense, like he was in 2018.

Morocco and Portugal also met in the 1986 World Cup where the North African outfit ran out 3-1 winners thanks to a brace by Abderrazak Khairi. The Atlas Lions actually topped their group that year, finishing ahead of England, Poland and bottom-placed Portugal.

Potential Lineups:

Morocco (4-3-3): Yassine Bounou; Achraf Hakimi, Nayef Aguerd, Romain Saiss, Noussair Mazraoui; Sofyan Amrabat, Azzedine Ounahi, Selim Amallah; Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En Nesyri, Sofiane Boufal

Portugal (4-3-3): Diogo Costa; Diogo Dalot, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro; William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva, Otavio; Bruno Fernandes, Goncalo Ramos, Joao Felix

Final Prediction

Morocco 1-1 Portugal (AET) – Portugal Win on Penalties

Could Morocco’s swashbuckling World Cup campaign continue and they reach the semi-finals? Certainly the Atlas Lions should have every confidence of getting past Portugal. Despite their resounding victory over Switzerland, Morocco offer a much sterner test for Portugal, especially at the back. Their spirit and sturdy defense could allow them to surprise further.

Although Portugal’s performance against the fellow European nation was filled with panache, equally, Switzerland were all over the place defensively. Regragui will have his side well-drilled and ready to go up against the excellent technical ability of Portugal but goals shouldn’t be as easy to come by on Saturday.

Nonetheless, confidence is flowing throughout the Portuguese camp at the moment, especially for 21-year-old Ramos. Let’s not forget that Ronaldo will also be waiting in the wings, prepared to take his chance if needed. He is still yet to win a World Cup too and with this being his final attempt, you could see it written in the stars that he meets Lionel Messi and Argentina in the final.

It’s going to be close but we’re backing Portugal to just about get through on the lottery of a shootout.