Kaliningrad (Russia), June 24 (IANS) Spain will be eyeing for a point in their final Group B match to see themselves into the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup 2018 when they take on Morocco at the Kaliningrad Stadium here on Monday.
The Spanish currently share leadership of their group with Portugal, who will also reach the last 16 with a draw against Iran, reports Xinhua news agency.
Both the Spanish and Portuguese have the same number of points and the same goal difference and if that is still the case after Monday’s matches, their positions would be decided by the number of yellow cards each side has seen so far in Russia.
By the time the game kicks off in Kaliningrad, Spain will know whether Russia or Uruguay have won Group A and have a better idea of their next possible rival, but the fact they can’t risk a heavy defeat means coach Fernando Hierro will pick his strongest possible 11.
The Spanish struggled to break down Iran in their recent 1-0 win in Kazan and Hierro needs midfielders such as David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Isco to try and get closer to the Morocco penalty area.
Diego Costa has been Spain’s main threat so far with 3 of the 4 goals they have scored so far in Russia.
Costa will again lead the line, while the coach could try something different, perhaps with Lucas Vazquez given a chance in a wide role.
In theory, the Spanish defense will be unaltered with Alba, Ramos, Pique and the fit again Dani Carvajal in defense and David de Gea continuing in goal.
Morocco showed in their games against Iran and Portugal that they are a tough side to face, but that they lack punch in attack.
That lack of a threat has seen them fail to take the chances which could have given their World Cup a very different storyline than an early ticket home and the Spanish will have to be careful of being caught on the break as they seek to control possession.
In theory, Spain could suffer a narrow defeat and still make the last 16 if Portugal beat Iran or that game ends in a low scoring draw.