Four things we learnt from Belgium's shock defeat to Morocco
The Morocco players celebrate Zakaria Aboukhlal's goal which doubled their lead in injury time.

Belgium kicked off knowing that victory would earn them qualification from Group F, but after they were defeated 2-0 by Moroccoand 2018 runners-up Croatia demolished Canada 4-1, Roberto Martinez's side now sit 3rd.

Belgium look a mere shadow of the side that finished 3rd in the 2018 World Cup. They never created any clear-cut chances against the North-African team and were punished for lacklustre defending at the other end of the pitch.

As for Morocco, Walid Regragui's side looks like a well-oiled, organised unit. Morocco thought they had the lead just before half time, but Hakim Ziyech's free kick was ruled out after it was deemed that Romain Saiss interfered with Thibaut Courtios' vision from an offside position.

However, Morocco's efforts were eventually rewarded when Saiss converted a free kick- very similar to Ziyech's disallowed effort but from the opposite flank.

Zakaria Aboukhlal put the nail in the coffin for Belgium when he struck a first-time finish into the top right corner from close range in the 92nd minute.

  •  Morocco emerging as dark horses

Before big international competitions, spectators tend to eye up potential underdogs who have may have gone under the radar in the build-up to the tournament.

This Morocco side are rapidly gaining attention, having picked up four points from two games against the Silver and Bronze medalists of the 2018 World Cup.

Their squad features an abundance of talent, many of whom were vital in preventing Belgium from scoring for just the second time in four years. It may have not been pretty but Regragui's side sustained constant Belgium pressure and didn't provide them with any clear chances at goal despite the Belgian's dominating possession.

To qualify, all Morocco need to do is avoid defeat against the already-eliminated Canada in the final group-stage game. 

  • Regragui's formidable defensive record

Regragui has only been in charge of Morocco for six games but is yet to concede a goal as their manager.

Morocco soaked up an early spell of intense pressure, but after 15 minutes or so, Regragui's side looked comfortable despite Belgium being the clear favourites with their surplus of serial winners.

Morocco's run of six consecutive clean sheets dates back to early June and they have won four of those encounters, now proving they can do it on the biggest stage of all.

While their defence is clearly reliable, their attacking options have not disappointed either. In particular, Ziyech, who was a constant threat to the Belgium defence and played a vital role in the second goal with some superb skill to give himself some space to play the ball across to Aboukhlal who finished emphatically.

  • Belgium in desperate need of a rebuild

It seems as though Belgium's golden generation is beyond its best years and requires some young talent to reestablish them as serious silverware contenders.

Yesterday's loss featured eight players in their 30s, including seven starters, and it was evident that they lacked the cutting-edge pace that we've seen from the likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku over the past decade.

Teams like Spain, Brazil and England all have many exciting youngsters, and while it's important to have experienced, senior players, Belgium's squad clearly has an imbalance, which has seen them display two underwhelming performances so far and now they are under a serious threat of group stage elimination. 

  • Kevin De Bruyne lacking attacking support

The Manchester City midfielder is seen as the world's best in his position by many. However, it is clear to see his creative capabilities are not being utilised by the Belgian attackers, unlike the likes of Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez for Manchester City.

De Bruyne has registered more assists in the Premier League than any other player since he returned in 2015/16. But despite attempting many crosses against Morocco, striker Michi Batshuayi posed little threat in meeting the deliveries, as too did Lukaku when he was introduced.  

The lack of goal threat is something that will need to change in Belgium's final group game against Croatia if they are to reach the round of 16.

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