Premier League Watch
Day seven of the 2018 World Cup kicked off with four Premier League starters for Euro 2016 champions Portugal. Despite dominating possession, however, their opponents Morocco struggled to create efforts on target, as new Wolverhampton Wanderers signing Rui Patricio had a relatively quite afternoon. The Portugal goalkeeper, an eye-catching recruit for Nuno Espirito Santo’s newly promoted team, only had four shots to save from Morocco’s total of 16 attempts – and only one of those even came close to testing him.
Midfielders Bernardo Silva and Joao Mario – of Manchester City and West Ham respectively – had little impact on the game as Portugal were happy to allow Morocco possession in front of them. The pair could muster only one key pass between them – both were replaced in the second half.
For Morocco, Watford utility man Nordin Amrabat – who after his obvious concussion in their opener against Iran possibly shouldn’t have been playing – threatened on the right side. His directness in possession provided an attacking outlet for Morocco, but they ultimately lacked a real presence in the Portugal penalty area. With no target man or late runners from midfield, Amrabat’s good work on the right side was wasted. He moved to the left side for a brief spell against Portugal right-back Cedric Soares in an all Premier League battle. The Southampton defender comfortably dealt with Amrabat’s penetrative runs, however, and remained relatively steady throughout.
In a similar fashion to Rui Patricio, Manchester United stopper David de Gea had a much less active evening for Spain against Iran than he had against Portugal – not a mistake in sight. David Silva was inevitably influential as Spain dominated; the Manchester City maestro actually registered the most shots for Spain, but only one of them hit the target.