Achraf Hakimi states Spain should be afraid of meeting Morocco in the World Cup’s Round of 16 on Tuesday.
Morocco defied the odds to finish top of Group F ahead of Belgium, Croatia and Canada. As a matter of fact, the Atlas Lions drew with Croatia before defeating Belgium 2-0 and Canada 2-1 respectively.
Spain almost missed out on advancing to the knockout phase. Japan won Group E with six points after claiming a surprising 2-1 victory against the 2010 champions. The latter finished second with four points, the same as Germany, but La Furia Roja advanced owing to their superior goal difference.
Hakimi states despite Spain’s status in the world of football, Morocco should get some respect for topping their group and their Tuesday opponents have reasons to be afraid.
“Spain are a top-five team and always come to the World Cup to win. But our coach [Walid Regragui] has also taught us to have a winning mentality; it doesn’t matter who we are up against,” Hakimi said as quoted by RTE.
“We are going to try to play our way and try to beat them. We finished first in the group and I think we deserve a little respect. I think that Spain knows that and that they have to be a little afraid of us. And why can’t we pull off a surprise again?”
This will be the second World Cup meeting between Morocco and Spain – the first was in the 2018 group stages. Morocco twice took the lead before drawing 2-2, with Iago Aspas scoring a last-minute Spain equaliser.
Spain have never lost in three previous meetings with Morocco – winning two and drawing one, with their two wins coming in a qualifying play-off for the 1962 World Cup in November 1961 when they won 1-0 away and 3-2 at home.