Key selection calls for Luis Enrique ahead of Morocco v Spain

Spain head coach Luis Enrique faces his first 2022 World Cup knockout game on December 6 as La Roja take on Morocco.

Defeat to Japan in their final group game saw Spain finish second in Group E, to set up a tie with shock Group F winners Morocco, in Al Rayyan.

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On paper, Spain are heavily fancied to beat Morocco, and cruise on into the last 16, but Enrique is under no illusions over how difficult the challenge  facing his team will be.

After opting to rest and rotate players against Japan, Enrique must now come up with a plan to avoid another last 16 exit, following their high profile departure against hosts Russia in 2018.

Despite an underwhelming performance against Japan, Athletic Club star Unai Simon will remain in goal, but the defence in front of him is set change.

Rodri is expected to be partnered again by Manchester City teammate Aymeric Laporte at centre back, with Jordi Alba at left back, as his La Bluagana colleague Alejandro Balde struggled against Japan.

Barcelona trio Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Gavi have started all three games in the group, with the latter becoming the youngest player to score at a World Cup since Pele in 1958.

However, the physical threat posed by Morocco in midfield could persuade Enrique to tweak his principles slightly, with Atletico Madrid skipper Koke as possible starter to bolster the engine room.

In attack, Enrique is torn between going back to his preferred Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres combination, or sticking with the in form Alvaro Morata.

The first three started against Costa Rica and Germany, but it was Morata’s key goals against the latter, and against Japan, that sealed their progress.

Asensio has impressed in a central role, but could be moved out wide, in place of Olmo, if Enrique was an orthodox option in his forward line.

Olmo’s level dipped against Japan, as the only one to start all three group ties, and he could be sacrificed from the starting XI at the Education City Stadium.

If it clicks for Spain they should make the last eight with the prospect of old foes Portugal on the horizon if they do.

Predicted Spain XI vs Morocco: Simon; Alba, Laporte, Rodri, Azpilcueta; Pedri, Busquets, Koke; Torres, Morata, Asensio

Tags Luis Enrique Morocco Spain
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