Portugal vs Morocco Preview: Golden Boot already in Ronaldo’s sights?

Portugal vs Morocco Preview: Golden Boot already in Ronaldo’s sights?

The Real Madrid forward hit three against Spain, which was only enough for a draw, and with the North African side having lost their opener to Iran, both sides will be going all out for victory

Matthew Brown

Portugal will face a different kind of challenge on Wednesday afternoon in the shape of Group B’s bottom side Morocco.

The Euro 2016 winners relished their underdog status against Spain last week, a heroic Cristiano Ronaldo performance leading them to a 3-3 draw, but they will be expected to beat well regarded African nation Morocco on matchday two.

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Ronaldo looks to increase goal tally

Star man Ronaldo will not be short of motivation on an individual or collective level, as the Real Madrid forward finds himself top of the goalscoring charts following the first round of matches, having netted a hattrick against Spain.

However, that only brought a draw for Fernando Santos’ team and they will now be looking to the 33-year-old for further inspiration.

Morocco had a superb defensive recorded in the lead up to the World Cup, having not conceded a goal in qualifying since 2015, but they were undone by a 95th minute own goal from forward Aziz Bouhaddouz in their opening game against Iran on Friday.

Six goals was enough for Colombia’s James Rodriguez to earn the Golden Boot in the 2014 World Cup and with a couple of more strikes here, Ronaldo will be confident of getting closer to that figure.

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Morocco rocked in defence

Further encouragement for Portugal comes in the shape of a Moroccan injury crisis at right-back. Nordin Amrabat, the Watford attacker who has featured in a deeper position for his country, went off with concussion against Iran, while another option, Nabil Dirar, has a knee injury.

That should encourage the likes of Goncalo Guedes and Bernardo Silva playing out wide with the opportunity to profit from Hervé Renard's side's unfortunate injury situation.

However, the North African outfit did beat Portugal in the sides’ only previous meeting, a 3-1 defeat for Portugal in the 1986 World Cup.

Renard, the only man to have the Africa Cup of Nations with two different countries – Zambia and Ivory Coast, will be hoping for a similar result with a defeat almost certainly leading to their exit from the competition.