Enrique, who rotated his line-up for the Japan game, is likely to recall Jordi Alba and Aymeric Laporte to the defence. Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio are also competing to start up front. There are doubts over the fitness of Cesar Azpilicueta, so if the Chelsea defender is not ready to start then Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal will come in. Dani Olmo and David Raya should be fit despite missing training.
Spain are the “best footballing team in this tournament”, while Morocco are probably “stronger, physically”, said Chris Sutton on BBC Sport. This one is “going to be close”. Prediction: Morocco 0 Spain 1.
Morocco must “harness every inch of their recent defensive resilience” if they are to secure a first-ever appearance in the quarter-finals, said Ben Knapton on SportsMole. A “true force” to be reckoned with in the final third, Spain’s “extensive list of attacking options” on the bench could end up “making the difference” if the teams cannot be separated after 90 minutes. Prediction: Morocco 1 Spain 2 (after extra-time).
Iberian giants Spain are “bonafide contenders” to win the World Cup and will need their young guns to “step up on the big stage”, said Aditya Hosangadi on SportsKeeda. Morocco stunned Belgium in the group stage and are “perfectly capable of pulling off an upset on their day”. But Spain are the “better team on paper” and “should be able to win this game”. Prediction: Morocco 1-2 Spain.
If Enrique’s Spanish side “hit top gear”, their status as favourites will be “well-earned”, said Grey Whitebloom on 90min.com. However, they could “struggle to break down this obviously obdurate opponent”, who will have a “boisterous travelling contingent” roaring them on. Prediction: Morocco 0 Spain 1.
The Atlas Lions are “riding the crest of a wave at the moment”, said Jonathan Gorrie in the London Evening Standard. “So strong defensively”, and against a Spain team “not packed with goals”, Costa Rica game aside, Morocco “pulling off a shock cannot be ruled out”. Prediction: Morocco 2 Spain 0.
Spain have never lost in their three previous meetings with Morocco and “our prediction model” makes them “strong favourites to advance to the last eight”, giving them a “61.3% chance of victory”, said Harry Carr on Opta Analyst. The Atlas Lions have provided “one of the great underdog stories” of this World Cup, but their chances of a historic victory are rated at “just 14.7%, making them big outsiders”. The draw, which would mean extra-time and potentially penalties, is given a “24% chance”.
Education City Stadium, located 4.3 miles west of Doha in Al Rayyan, has a capacity of 40,000. Six group-stage matches were held at the stadium, and in the knockouts it will host this round of 16 game and a quarter-final tie.