Group B: Morocco World Cup Betting Odds & Tips
Morocco will bridge a 20-year gap this summer as they make their fifth World Cup Finals appearance and a first since France ’98.
The Atlas Lions achieved a scalp when they overcame the Ivory Coast 2-0 in their final qualifier, thus knocking out their illustrious opponents.
They have been beyond the group stage just once in four previous attempts, in Mexico in 1986, and will be unfancied to repeat the dose after a tough draw placed them in Group B alongside European heavyweights Spain and Portugal.
Any hopes of causing an upset for the African nation are likely to rest on getting three points from their opening game against Iran in St Petersburg on June 15, before they move on to Moscow and a clash with European champions Portugal five days later, finally tackling Spain in Kaliningrad on June 25.
The Moroccan journey to Russia began with a two-legged playoff win over Equatorial Guinea in November 2015 that allowed them to advance to the group stage of the African qualifiers. As third seeds, they wouldn’t have been deemed likely winners in a group with Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali.
Three wins and three draws saw them through to Russia and, remarkably, Herve Renard’s men didn’t concede a single goal in those six games.
The much-travelled coach has plenty of experience, having won the African Cup of Nations already with Zambia (2012) and Ivory Coast (2015). Their outstanding defensive record owes plenty to the presence of captain and central defender Medhi Benatia.
An experienced performer in Serie A, he’s had spells at Udinese and Roma before a stint with Bayern Munich and is now back plying his trade in Italy with Juventus.
Younes Belhanda of Galatasaray is likely to have a key creative role in midfield while Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal will also hope to force his way into Renard’s thinking come June.
Their ability to defend will be vital when they face the likes of Spain and Portugal, but Morocco will know getting victory over Iran in their opener is key and they are 2.30 to make that winning start. The Atlas Lions are 17.00 to cause another stir by winning Group B in Russia.