Gavi retains faith in the player’s Spanish style even as the impressive teenage star knows La Rojo must learn from their mistakes against Japan when they face Morocco in the World Cup round of 16.
Spain were well on their way to the top of Group E when Álvaro Morata led an early debut on Wednesday, but goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka helped the Blue Samurai stagger past their opponents.
For an incredible three minutes, Spain even looked poised to join Germany in the early exit as Costa Rica briefly finished in second place.
Spain ultimately survived despite their seven-match unbeaten streak (excluding the shootout) at the World Cup being halted, and Gavi says Tuesday’s game offers a chance to right some wrongs.
“The match against Japan should serve as a lesson for the future. Fortunately, this defeat was resolved and we clearly understand what we need to do,” said Gavi Marca.
“We are in the 1/8 finals and there are some very good teams that couldn’t make it. That’s why we have to really think that pressure is a privilege.”
Spain completed 2,489 passes in their group stage campaign, the highest single-tournament total ever (since 1966), while their 969 passes against Japan was a record for a losing team in the tournament.
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) December 1, 2022
While Morocco showed its counter-attacking qualities with four points against Croatia and Belgium, Gavi believes that Spain must stick to its principles.
“We are not going to lose focus on the goal of winning the World Cup,” he added.
“We’re going to look for it, staying true to what we’ve been doing all these years. It would be a mistake to give up everything we believe in.”
Morocco is participating in the World Cup playoffs for only the second time, losing at this stage to West Germany in 1986.
The Atlas Lions are chasing a piece of history on Tuesday when they were able to repeat the longest unbeaten run an African team has achieved at the World Cup – currently Cameroon’s five-game streak between 1982 and 1990.
After a 2-1 victory over Canada, Morocco topped Group F, coach Walid Regragui urged his team to aim high.
“We didn’t just come here to say, ‘Oh, we’re almost there,’” he said. “We need to get results like all European or South American teams do. We need to imitate them.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Morocco – Hakim Ziyech
While Romain Saisse and Nayef Agerd are likely to be busy defending Morocco, Regraga’s side will be a threat on the other end – mostly through Chelsea creator Ziyech.
Ziyech has completed more passes into the box (17) and created more chances (4) than any other Moroccan player in the World Cup, and also leads his teammates in passes (43) and total distance (477.6 meters). ). .
While Ziyech’s counterattacking prowess is evident, he also scored his first World Cup goal last time and the 29-year-old could be a thorn in the side of the Spaniards.
Spain – Alvaro Morata
While Barcelona playmakers Gavi and Pedri have eclipsed the Spanish headlines in Qatar, good margins can often decide knockout matches and Morata’s contribution can be key.
Despite being vilified by some, Morata has been consistently hitting the net in this tournament, scoring in each of his three matches despite only playing 126 minutes.
Morata started two of Spain’s three Euro 2020 play-off games last year and if he can reward Luis Enrique with another goal, he will join David Villa in becoming the second Spaniard to score in four consecutive World Cup matches.
Spain have never lost in their previous three meetings against Morocco (W2 D1) and Opta’s prediction model makes them strong favorites to reach the last 8, giving them a 61.3% chance of winning.
However, Morocco did achieve a 2-2 draw in the team’s only previous World Cup competition in 2018, and a repeat – which would mean extra time and possibly a penalty – offers a 24 percent chance.
The Atlas Lions have become one of the biggest underdogs of this tournament, but their chances of a historic victory are estimated at only 14.7%, which makes them big underdogs.