Would Lions of Atlas be the World Cup underdogs?



Wed, 13 Jun 2018 - 04:00 GMT


Wed, 13 Jun 2018 - 04:00 GMT

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Morocco vs Slovakia - Stade de Geneve, Geneva, Switzerland - June 4, 2018 Morocco team group before the match REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Morocco vs Slovakia - Stade de Geneve, Geneva, Switzerland - June 4, 2018 Morocco team group before the match REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

CAIRO – 9 June 2018: Morocco or as they prefer to be called, Lions of Atlas, placed in a very tough group alongside the 2010 World Cup winner, Spain; 2016 Euro Champions, Portugal and Asian Tigers, Iran.

Morocco starts their journey against Iran on June 15 att St Petersburg; Portugal on June 20 at Moscow then ending the Group B matches against Spain on June 25 in Kaliningrad.

Lions of Atlas were the first Arab and African team to surpass the World Cup group stages in 1986 edition when they topped a group includes three European giants; England, Poland and Portugal.


Moroccan goalkeeper, Ezzaki Badou’s teammates were eliminated in the 16th round against Germany by a late goal from Lothar Matthäus.

The North African country qualified for the World Cup in four occasions; last time was in 1998.

They are now back under the helm of the French manager, Hervé Renard, who mixed the amazing football with the good results, as Morocco has been undefeated in their last 17 consecutive games.

Herve Renard

Renard’s style of play depends on basically on continuous pressing by the Attackers and Midfielders together to create troubles for their opponents. It worked as Morocco has a lot of talents who are playing in Europe years ago.

Key Players

1- Achraf Hakimi

Morocco - Achraf Hakimi

Current club: Real Madrid

Profile: The 20-years-old Achraf is the first Arab player to win the UEFA Champions League title (2018 edition) since the Algerian player, Rabah Madjer, who won it with Porto in 1987.

He is a very promising talent as he succeeded to book a place in Real Madrid prestigious squad as a substitute for the main right-back, Dani Carvajal.

Club Appearances: 61
International Appearances: 9
Goals: (club = 6)
Assists: (club = 11)

2- Medhi Benatia

Morocco - Medhi Benatia

Current club: Juventus

Profile: The 31-years-old Medhi Benatia is a World Class centre back who played for many European giants; Marseille, Udinese, Roma, Bayern Munich and Juventus. He achieved three Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich before winning two Serie A titles with Juventus.

All Clubs Appearances: 324
International Appearances: 48
Goals: (Club = 22) (International = 2)
Assists: (Club = 6) (International = 1)

3- Hakim Ziyech

Morocco - Hakim

Current club: Ajax

Profile: The 25-years-old Hakim Ziyech is a Moroccan professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Ajax in the Eredivisie and for the Morocco national team. He is known for his technique and free kick ability.

Ziyech was one of the best players in Netherlands as he played with Netherlands youth team; but, in September 2015, he surprised Netherlands team as he chose to play with his mother country, Morocco.

All Clubs Appearances: 285
International Appearances: 16
Goals: (Club = 81) (International = 6)
Assists: (Club = 80) (International = 4)

4- Younes Belhanda

Younes Belhanda - Morocco

Current club: Galatasaray

Profile: The 28-years-old started his professional career in France with Montpellier spending three successful years before heading to Ukraine with Dynamo Kyiv; then featuring in two loans for German club Schalke 04 and French club Nice. He settled this season with Galatasaray in the Superlig.

All Clubs Appearances: 320
International Appearances: 38
Goals: (Club = 48) (International = 3)
Assists: (Club = 53) (International = 2)

Morocco 23-player squad who will feature in the 2018 World Cup:


Goalkeepers : Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia, Spain), Yassine Bounou (Girona, Spain), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger);

Defenders : Mehdi Benatia (Juventus, Italy), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir, Turkey), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid, Spain), Hamza Mendyl (Lille, France);

Midfielders : M'bark Boussoufa (Al Jazira, UAE), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord, Netherlands), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen, France), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord, Netherlands), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray, Turkey), Faycal Fajr (Getafe, Spain), Amine Harit (Schalke, Germany);

Forwards : Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor, Turkey), Aziz Bouhaddouz (St. Pauli, Germany), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes, Spain), Mehdi Carcela (Standard de Liege, Belgium), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, Netherlands).



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