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Morocco Could Upset the Apple Cart in Group B

The Odds

  • To win the World Cup: +50000
  • To win Group B: +1600
  • To advance to Round of 16: +335

Bet To Watch

Morocco over 2.5 points -125 (5Dimes)

Making only their fifth World Cup appearance, and first since 1998, Morocco’s chances of bettering their best-ever finish — a round of 16 exit at Mexico ’86 — were undoubtedly dealt a blow by a tough group draw. They face the two most recent European champions in Spain and Portugal, but do have the opportunity to take a psychological advantage in their opening game.

They face fellow underdogs Iran, who themselves are not to be underestimated having qualified in the strongest fashion from the Asian confederation, and a winner from that match would pile the pressure on the two favorites to progress. In that sense, Morocco’s chances of escaping the group phase for only the second time will likely hinge on their very first game.

 

With the importance of the match to both sides, you can count on a tight and nervy affair, although the Atlas Lions have proven masters of gaining a narrow advantage. Despite boasting an enviable array of attacking talent, they were far from free scoring en route to Russia but were the only side at the entire tournament that didn’t concede a single goal in the final phase of qualification.

Led from the back by captain Medhi Benatia, and with an experienced defensive shield stationed in front of the back four that in turn affords Morocco’s creative players a little more freedom, coach Herve Renard (pictured above) has found an impressive balance both in terms of the squad’s age and its tactical versatility.

Moreover, while the Jaime Lannister lookalike may not have coached at a World Cup before, he has experience of getting the best from his players in major international tournaments. Twice a winner of the African Cup of Nations, first with Zambia and then Ivory Coast, the Frenchman is the only man to have led two different nations to that particular title.

He’ll know that their final, of sorts, is that very first game, but if Morocco can make their superior quality count against Iran, they will fancy themselves to frustrate a Portugal side that enter the tournament in pretty underwhelming form. The likes of Hakim Ziyech, Younes Belhanda and Amine Harit certainly have the tools to unlock Fernando Santos’ aging defense. And if there’s a more obvious upset in the cards — if that is even possible — it may well come in Group B.

In terms of a bet to watch, there is value on grabbing Morocco at over 2.5 points. A victory over Iran would be enough to see them past that mark.


More World Cup Betting Coverage

Credit:

Morocco National Team

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@martinlaurence7
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