Cristiano Ronaldo aims to advance Portugal past Switzerland and into the World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday as Morocco attempts to derail Spain’s bid for a second global crown. Morocco’s goal is to stop Spain from winning a second title.
After five-time champion, Brazil defeated South Korea 4-1 and 2018 finalists Croatia defeated Japan via a penalty shootout, only two last-eight slots remain in Qatar.
Even before he kicked a ball after launching a tirade against Manchester United and their manager Erik ten Hag, Ronaldo was dominating the headlines at the tournament.
He left by “mutual agreement” and is now looking for a new team. Sources say he’s in talks with Saudi club Al-Nassr about a big deal.
Despite all the hype, the 37-year-old superstar forward has been a shadow of his former self in Qatar. He is playing in what is almost certainly his final World Cup.
After becoming the first player to score at five World Cups with a penalty kick in their first match against Ghana, he has huffed and puffed but has not scored again.
Portugal fans still disagree about whether Ronaldo should start, but coach Fernando Santos said he wasn’t paying attention to the raging debate.
He stated, “I do not read material of this kind.” It’s not that I don’t respect you; it’s just that we have three days to practice for a game and I’m not reading other news. We concentrate on the upcoming game.”
Santos stated that he anticipated a close matchup with Switzerland. In the UEFA Nations League in June, Portugal defeated Switzerland 4-0 before losing 1-0 in the reverse match.
Morocco is the sole remaining group from Africa and the main Middle Eastern group left in Qatar.
As they attempt to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in their history, head coach Walid Regragui has urged his team to believe they can defeat formidable Spain.
If Morocco defeated the 2010 champions, they would become just the fourth African team to reach the last eight, joining Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in 2010.
Regragui said, “We’ll come out swinging.” We want to fly the flag of Morocco very high. We are playing for our country and ourselves first and foremost.
“We want to make all Arabs and Africans happy. We need their prayers and support in order to have that extra edge we need to win. Before, we were only supported by Moroccans.
Spain began the competition with a strut, crushing seven objectives past Costa Rica before a draw with Germany and a loss against South Korea.
Before the World Cup, Luis Enrique, the coach, stated that he gave each of his players the “homework” of practicing 1,000 penalties because he is convinced that they are not a lottery.
On Monday against South Korea, Brazil put on a first-half masterclass thanks to Neymar’s return from injury. In the 36th minute, their talisman scored a goal from the penalty spot, giving Brazil a 4-0 lead.
Despite Paik Seung-ho’s thunderbolt late in the game, his team was outclassed on a disappointing night for Asian football.
Earlier, Croatia, led by Luka Modric, lost 3-1 on penalties to Japan after coming back from a goal down to equalize.
Dominik Livakovic, Croatia’s heroic goalkeeper, saved three penalties in the shootout.
With the exception of their loss to France in the final in Russia four years ago, seven of Croatia’s eight knockout games at major tournaments have gone to extra time.
On Friday, Brazil will play Croatia in the quarterfinals, and the Netherlands will play Argentina on the same day. On Saturday, England takes on France.