Resolute defensively in the group stage, Morocco repeated that blueprint to hold off Spain in the round of 16.
The end result was a penalty shootout and some frustrated comments from Spanish players after the match. They are rewarded with a quarter-final tie against Portugal.
This is just Morocco’s second knockout appearance at a World Cup, and the first time they have made it to the last eight.
Portugal thumped Switzerland in the week to reach a World Cup quarter-final for the first time since their run to the semis in 2006.
Fernando Santos made a big call leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, but the decision worked wonders.
Not only did Ronaldo’s replacement star in the win over South Korea, it was also a markedly improved team performance with more coherent pressing and fluidity in attack.
Morocco have shown great steel defensively to restrict more talented opponents, but there is a sense this is a step too far.
Portugal are fifth in expected goals per 90 at this World Cup, and should be able to get this wrapped up inside 90 minutes.
Clean Sheet: Portugal
Partly due to the strength of their opponents, partly due to some cautious tactics from Walid Regragui, Morocco have rarely created chances in Qatar.
Just three teams are averaging fewer shots per match, and the Atlas Lions have already failed to score twice.
Portugal’s defence has shown signs of weakness. Still, their superior quality should shine through in this match, leading to a comfortable win to nil.
Anytime Goalscorer: Gonçalo Ramos
Starting in place of Ronaldo on Tuesday, Gonçalo Ramos scored a remarkable hat-trick against Switzerland.
Ramos has made just four appearances for Portugal, and scored his only other international goal in a warm-up match last month.
There is no question Ramos will be starting against Morocco in the last eight. His confidence couldn’t be higher heading into this match, and with an array of creative players around him, he’s got a great chance of adding to his World Cup tally.
Don’t rule him out for the Golden Boot yet, either.
All odds are subject to change