World Cup quarter-final: Morocco vs. Portugal prediction, preview and team news

Can the Atlas Lions continue their fairytale run in Qatar?

Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech and Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo
Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech and Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo
(Image credit: Fifa via Getty Images)

Morocco’s incredible journey to the Fifa World Cup quarter-finals has seen them finish top of group F and beat Spain on penalties in the round of 16. On Saturday, they will face a dangerous Portugal side who thrashed Switzerland 6-1 last time out. Can the Atlas Lions continue their fairytale run in Qatar?

The “last African side standing”, but at the first Arab World Cup, Morocco “are more than that”, said Richard Jolly in the Independent. “Carrying a continent’s hopes” as well as representing the Middle East, they have the support of two vast regions. “Before it was just the Moroccans who supported us,” said head coach Walid Regragui. “Now it is the Africans and Arabs.”

A boisterous “home” crowd will welcome Portugal for the last-eight clash at the Al Thumama Stadium – but will they welcome Cristiano Ronaldo from the start? In the 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland, the 37-year-old was named on the bench as his replacement, Gonçalo Ramos, scored a superb hat-trick.

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The winners of Saturday’s match will play England or France in the World Cup semi-finals.

Match facts

  • Who: Morocco vs. Portugal
  • What: Fifa World Cup quarter-final
  • When: Saturday 10 December 2022
  • Where: Al Thumama Stadium
  • Kick-off time: 3pm (all times GMT)

How to watch on TV in the UK

Saturday’s quarter-final clash between Morocco and Portugal will be shown live in the UK on ITV1 and ITVX. TV coverage begins at 2pm and the match kicks off at 3pm.

Portugal striker Gonçalo Ramos scored a hat-trick against Switzerland

Portugal striker Gonçalo Ramos scored a hat-trick against Switzerland
(Image credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Team news

Morocco coach Walid Regragui has managed to keep a “very settled line-up and approach” in Qatar and this has contributed to their “storming success”, said Marc Mayo in the London Evening Standard. Selim Amallah is expected to continue in midfield ahead of Abdelhamid Sabiri.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos made a bold decision to name Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for the round of 16 win against Switzerland. After Gonçalo Ramos’s hat-trick, 37-year-old Ronaldo could find himself as a sub again. Defender Danilo Pereira remains a doubt after injuring his ribs in training, while left-back Nuno Mendes has been ruled out of the tournament.

Possible starting XIs

  • Morocco: Bono; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Mazraoui; Amrabat, Amallah, Ounahi; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal
  • Portugal: Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Neves, Otavio; Silva, Fernandes, Felix; Ramos

Yassine ‘Bono’ Bounou is congratulated by his Morocco team-mates

Keeper Yassine ‘Bono’ Bounou was Morocco’s star in the win over Spain
(Image credit: Alex Livesey/Danehouse/Getty)


It has been an “incredible showing” from Morocco, their performances will “certainly live long in the memory”, said George Flood in the London Evening Standard. And they will “no doubt revel” in another opportunity to “thrive as big underdogs”. However, this is surely likely to “prove a step too far”. Prediction: Morocco 0 Portugal 2.

Portugal did an “absolute demolition job” on Switzerland and are “now fancied” to end Morocco’s fairytale run if they maintain that momentum, said Tony Kelshaw on bwin. We fear this may be “one bridge too far” and Portugal are tipped to “eventually wear them down”.

While Morocco managed to hold “a toothless” Spain side down for 120 minutes in the round of 16, they “expended an exhausting amount of energy doing so”, said Kyle Bonn on Sporting News. Like they showed against Uruguay and when “beating up” a defensive-minded Switzerland, Portugal can “break down bunkered sides”. Once they get their opener and Morocco “have to come out of their shell”, this match will “turn into a track meet”, and that will suit the European side. Prediction: Morocco 0 Portugal 3.

If Morocco got this far, “why can’t they win one more game?”, asked Jon Conahan on Oddschecker. “I don’t think they’re going to win this game” and because of that, “I’m going to hop on Portugal”. I expect them to reach the 2022 World Cup semi-finals.

The stadium

Following six group games and a round of 16 fixture, this quarter-final is the last of eight matches to be held at the Al Thumama Stadium. According to, the 40,000-capacity stadium’s design represents the “gahfiya” – a traditional woven cap worn by men and boys across the Middle East.



  • Head coach: Walid Regragui
  • Key player: Achraf Hakimi
  • One to watch: Sofiane Boufal
  • Goalkeepers: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla), Munir El Kajoui (Al Wehda), Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca)
  • Defenders: Nayef Aguerd (West Ham United), Yahia Attiat Allah (Wydad Casablanca), Badr Benoun (Qatar SC), Achraf Dari (Stade Brest), Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid), Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain), Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern Munich), Romain Saiss (Besiktas)
  • Midfielders: Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina), Selim Amallah (Standard Liege), Bilal El Khannouss (Racing Genk), Yahya Jabrane (Wydad Casablanca), Azzedine Ounahi (Angers), Abdelhamid Sabiri (Sampdoria)
  • Forwards: Zakaria Aboukhlal (Toulouse), Soufiane Boufal (Angers), Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers), Walid Cheddira (Bari), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), Abde Ezzalzouli (Osasuna), Abderrazak Hamdallah (Al Ittihad), Amine Harit (Olympique Marseille), Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)


  • Head coach: Fernando Santos
  • Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo
  • One to watch: Ruben Dias
  • Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (Porto), Rui Patricio (AS Roma), Jose Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
  • Defenders: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Pepe (Porto), Danilo Pereira (Paris St-Germain), Antonio Silva (Benfica)
  • Midfielders: William Carvalho (Real Betis), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Otavio (Porto), Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Vitinha (Paris St-Germain)
  • Forwards: Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Ricardo Horta (SC Braga), Rafael Leao (AC Milan), Goncalo Ramos (Benfica), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Andre Silva (RB Leipzig)
  • Injured and out of the World Cup: Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain)

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.