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Morocco vs. Portugal Betting Tips: Side with Santos' centre-backs to rack up the passes

Morocco Vs Portugal

Morocco take on Portugal in the first of two World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday and we've got Jimmy the Punt on hand to provide us with his best bets for the game. 

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Morocco vs. Portugal Odds

Morocco defied the odds, trumping Spain to become the first Arab nation to reach the final eight of a World Cup. The Atlas Lions went off at 11/2 against their European counterparts, giving them less then a 16% chance of progressing in the 90. 

Walid Regragui’s success in charge of the North Africans has been built on defensive solidarity, and this is epitomised by the fact no opposition player has scored against them, and that includes the penalty shoot out in the last round. 

Morocco have kept three clean sheets in Qatar but also created very little, generating an average xG of 0.74 per game.

If they were going to stand any chance of getting past the Spanish, they needed to keep it tight, and hold their nerve in the shootout and this is exactly what they did. 

If you didn’t manage to watch the game, I’ve got a statistic that depicts the dynamic of the match pretty well.

The entire Atlas Lions side, six substitutes and all, completed 216 passes. La Furia Roja centre back, Rodri, completed 207 alone, just nine less than his opponents.

 

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La Furia Roja were pretty gracious in defeat, post-match, Rodri said, “Morocco offered absolutely nothing. Without disrespecting them. In the game, they did nothing. They just waited for the counters. They stayed behind and tried to counter us!" 

While Morocco’s progression hinges on the collective, their next opponents hinges on an individual and his inclusion or exclusion in the XI. 

Yes, obviously I am referring to Cristiano Ronaldo. With him in the starting line-up, the Seleção looked laborious, one dimensional and lacklustre. 

It took them 65 minutes to break the deadlock against Ghana- and that came from the spot- 54 minutes against Uruguay- and that was an attempted cross- and then they lost to South Korea. 

In the group stages, spearheaded by CR7, that was six goals, two penalties and one was a cross. And this came against sides ranked 61st, and 14th.

Morocco vs Portugal Tips

World Cup Odds
Pepe Over 78.5 Passes and Ruben Dias Over 77.5 Passes
4/5
Odds correct as of 2022-12-08 15:55 Odds subject to change.

Pepe has averaged 62.3 passes this tournament, his partner in central defence, Ruben Dias, slightly less at 59.3.  The pair have only played together twice, but it was for Portugal’s most important games; their group clash against Uruguay and the last 16 game. So, Fernando Santos should opt for the pair at the heart of defence in this game. Against Uruguay, Pepe and Dias combined to make 126 passes, however, given the opposition, they should obliterate this tally on Saturday.  

In Morocco’s four games so far, the opposition centre backs have averaged a staggering 122.75 passes, with the eight players combining to make 982 passes in total. 

Each of those CB’s hit Dias’ line of 77.5 passes, Canada’s Steven Vitoria ran it closest attempting 80 against the North Africans. It is worth pointing out that Vitoria's second best total was 54 against Croatia though.

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Morocco vs Portugal Odds
Pepe Over 98.5 Passes and Ruben Dias Over 97.5 Passes
16/1
Odds correct as of 2022-12-08 15:55 Odds subject to change.

Of the eight players to face Morocco this winter, five have broken into treble digits for attempted passes with Spain and Belgium’s partnerships each making it to the 100 club. 

For Spain, Rodri and Aymeric Laporte combined to attempt 407 passes, as Rodri set a new record. 

With this considered, I think taking Pepe and Dias to each hit 99 passes is worth a punt at very chunky odds. 

Best of luck if you are backing any of these selections and please remember to gamble responsibly. 

Did you know that bet365 pay your bet as a winner in Bet Credits if it loses in normal time but goes on to win in extra time T&C's apply). Find out more on our bet365 offers page.

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