Belgium will be leaving the Al Thumama Stadium with more questions than answers after suffering a surprise defeat to Morocco in what is the Red Devils’ first defeat to African opposition in the FIFA World Cup. Goals from Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal were enough to give Morocco a famous victory as Belgium struggle to show improvement from the Canada match.
Morocco thought they took the lead just before half-time after Hakim Ziyech won a free-kick and his curling effort beat Thibaut Courtois. However, referee César Ramos of Mexico was sent to the VAR screen who ruled captain Romain Saiss was in an offside position.
Thibaut Courtois, 4 – Conceding two goals in similar fashion is not a good look, especially when Courtois’ blushes were saved when Ziyech’s attempt was ruled offside. A similar setup in the second-half from Sabiri and the same mistake was made in the goalkeeper’s positioning making it all too easy.
Thomas Meunier, 5
Toby Alderweireld, 5
Jan Vertonghen, 6
Timothy Castagne, 5
Alex Witsel, 4 – Witsel is meant to be the piece that calms the midfield down and controls the tempo of the game – that did not happen at all. He looked too relaxed on the ball and Morocco pressed him far too easily which begs the question why did he not get substituted in this match?
Amadou Onana, 5
Kevin De Bruyne, 6 – Limited opportunities for one of the best playmakers in the world to do his usual game. The slow approach certainly happens De Bruyne’s impact in the middle of the park as we are not seeing the same player we are used to at Manchester City.
Eden Hazard, 6
Thorgan Hazard, 5
Michy Batshuayi, 6
Others: Youri Tielemans 5, Dries Mertens 4, De Ketelaere 5, Leandro Trossard 5, Romelu Lukaku 5
Monor El Kajoui, 7
Achraf Hakimi, 7 – Quality on the wing and limited the services from the likes of Castagne and Hazard as well as supporting Ziyech on the wing whenever Morocco went on the attack.
Noussair Mazraoui, 7
Nayef Aguerd, 7 – His marking of Batshuayi and Lukaku was enough to frustrate the goal scoring opportunities Belgium were hoping to utilise in this match. Silencing these two were crucial if they were to get three points and Aguerd did just that under Saiss’ guidance
Romain Saiss, 8 – A captain’s performance that he will be happy with. Saiss organised and setup the defence well to frustrate the likes of De Bruyne, Mertens, Batshuayi, Lukaku and both Hazard brothers.
Sofyan Amrabat, 6
Azzedine Ounahi, 6
Selim Amallah, 5
Hakim Ziyech, 7 – The star man certainly set the tone throughout the match and was a handful for Belgium’s defence on the right-win. He will feel frustrated that his goal was disallowed for offside just before half-time.
Sofiane Boufal, 6 – Had a lot to offer on the left-wing and played a similar approach to Ziyech by cutting in and taking the chances in front of him. He had a great chance to take the lead but Courtois had enough to deny him.
Youssef En Nesyri, 6
Others: Abdelhamid Sabiri 7, Abderrazak Hamdallah 5, Zakaria Aboukhlal 6, Yahya Attiat-Allah 5, Jawad El Yamiq 5
GBeNeFN | Tom Phillips