The European champions continue to look vulnerable at the back, an issue they need to address going into the knockout stages
The 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia is now in full swing, with the first round of fixtures bringing with it, its fair share of surprises. Portugal took on Morocco in the second game of their tournament coming in one the off the back of what was perhaps the match of the tournament so far against Spain. The Navigators won the game 1-0 following Cristiano Ronaldo’s header in the first half.
We at Khel Now have put together five takeaways from today’s game.
Watch: Portugal 1-0 Morocco highlights
5. Wolves have pulled off a major coup in signing Rui Patricio
The Portuguese goalkeeper signed for the newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier in the month from Sporting Lisbon and showed the world just what he was made of against Morocco.
The 30-year-old was not bombarded with shots all match, but he had complete command of his box springing into action when called upon quite spectacularly.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo is edging closer to being the G.O.A.T
In what might well be his last World Cup, Ronaldo is showing the world just how good he is with four goals in just two games so far. The Portuguese forward scored a spectacular hat-trick against Spain and followed it up with a smart header early in the game against Morocco.
The 33-year-old moved past Real Madrid and Hungary legend Puskas to become the all-time highest European goalscorer with 85 goals for Portugal. A fifth Ballon D’Or could well be within touching distance for the Los Blancos man.
3. Portugal’s defence looks vulnerable
Portugal’s first-choice centre-back pairing of Jose Fonte and Pepe have a combined age of 69 and have both spent the past season playing outside Europe’s top five leagues. While the defence did end up with a clean-sheet, it was more down to the lack of end product from Morocco than the defensive brilliance of Portugal.
Nordin Amrabat had the beating of his man all game long and caused the Portuguese backline all sorts of problems. Fernando Santos would do well to sort these issues before the knockout stages.
2. Morocco are lacking a proper finisher
The creative brilliance of Amrabat, Ziyach Harit and several others in the Moroccan team was in vain as the chances they created kept being wasted. Had the Atlas Lions had a proper goalscorer in their ranks, the story could well have been different in both their games so far. But, as it stands, Morocco are the first team to be eliminated from the competition.
1. VAR is still to reach its full potential
VAR has been a point of controversy in almost every game of the Word Cup so far. In this match too, both teams could have had decisions reversed by VAR, which were largely overlooked. A case could be made for VAR not being limited to penalty decisions, with dives from Ronaldo and Pepe bringing out a side of the game that nobody wants to see.
Portugal play their next fixture against Iran on the 25th of June 2018.