Morocco defeated Spain on penalties on Tuesday (0-0) to present itself with a historic match in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup, where it will face Portugal, which swept Switzerland (6-1) and showed that there can be life and joy without them. Cristiano Ronaldo.
The two teams, who will face each other on Saturday, are the only two teams in the top eight to have never reached a World Cup final. England and France will meet on Sunday as well, and the day before, the Netherlands will play against Argentina and Croatia will play against Brazil in the final table.
By defeating Spain, Morocco, which has been exciting since the start of the tournament, avoids repeating the scenarios of 2018 or 2006, when the quarter-finals turned into a duel between Europe and South America.
This success will calm the old demons of the oldest Moroccan fans and the shock of elimination at the same stage of the competition in 1986, from a long free kick from German Lothar Matthäus at the end of the match.
This time, Pablo Sarabia could have played the role of executioner, but his recovery at the far post in the last moments missed the goal by a breath, caressing the post of goalkeeper Yacine Bounou, nicknamed “Bono.”
During the penalty shootout, Sevilla's goalkeeper stopped attempts by Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets, while Sarabia, the first-choice shooter, hit the post.
” the Penalties“It's a bit of intuition and a bit of luck,” the goalkeeper explained after the match, praising his teammates who “did the job” for 120 minutes.
If there's anyone else who has 'done the job', it's Gonzalo Ramos. Before this encounter, the young Benfica Lisbon striker had accumulated 30 minutes of action for selection.
However, it was he who coach Fernando Ramos selected for the squad instead of Cristiano Ronaldo, a surely dying legend, unconvincing in the group stage.
It is an option that would undoubtedly have been severely criticized if it failed against the strong Switzerland so far. But Ramos's hat-trick (the first in the tournament) and the smoothness of the Portuguese match without their star player clearly prove that he was right.
He entered the match in place of his young partner Ronaldo, 37 years old, and immediately regained the captaincy that Pepe had held for 195 minutes.H The selections are one point away from the world record, which they will undoubtedly equal against Morocco.
But it will undoubtedly be one of the last goals he will add to his long collection as this World Cup increasingly takes on the appearance of the end of an era for Portugal and the beginning of the twilight of 'CR7', who had one of his goals logically disallowed for offside.
News from Pele
And it's not as bad news as Portuguese fans might have thought just a few weeks ago, as their team has excelled without the man who dominated the Seleção for so long.
In addition to the top honour, the challenge for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, the 2016 European champion, is now to find success following his exit with Portugal after the disastrous failure of his second stay at Manchester United. Waiting, perhaps, to surrender to the profitable sirens of Al-Nasr, with whom he has begun negotiations, according to officials in the Saudi club.
As for Switzerland, it is eliminated from the competition for the fourth time at this stage after 2006, 2014 and 2018. It has not entered the quarter-finals since it qualified for the World Cup in 1954, when the tournament included sixteen teams.
During a comfortable day, the day after their easy qualification against South Korea (4-1), the Brazilians received reassuring news from Pele, who is fighting colon cancer and whose “health condition is gradually improving,” according to the hospital in which he is being treated.