Morocco World Cup 2022 guide: Key players, injuries, tactics & tournament prediction

Hakim Ziyech is back for Morocco
Hakim Ziyech is back for Morocco / Briony Painter | 90min

Morocco head into the 2022 World Cup looking to spring a surprise or two.

Walid Regragui's side breezed through qualifying to make it to Qatar and they are currently the 22nd ranked footballing nation in the world.

Very few are talking about them as a potential dark horse, however, due to their poor World Cup record. Morocco have only progressed beyond the group phase once in five appearances.

Here's what to expect from the Atlas Lions at the World Cup.

When are Morocco group games?

  • Morocco vs Croatia (November 23, 10:00 GMT)
  • Belgium vs Morocco (November 27, 13:00 GMT)
  • Canada vs Morocco (December 1, 15:00 GMT)
  • Morocco vs Croatia H2H record: Played 1, Drawn 1
  • Morocco vs Belgium H2H record: Played 3, Won 1, Lost 2
  • Morocco vs Canada H2H record: Played 4, Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 1

Who is in Morocco's confirmed 26-player squad for the World Cup?

Goalkeepers: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla), Munir El Kajoui (Al Wehda), Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad Casablanca)

Defenders: Nayef Aguerd (West Ham United), Yahia Attiat Allah (Wydad Casablanca), Badr Benoun (Qatar SC), Achraf Dari (Stade Brest), Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid), Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain), Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern Munich), Romain Saiss (Besiktas)

Midfielders: Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina), Selim Amallah (Standard Liege), Bilal El Khannouss (Racing Genk), Yahya Jabrane (Wydad Casablanca), Azzedine Ounahi (Angers), Abdelhamid Sabiri (Sampdoria)

Forwards: Zakaria Aboukhlal (Toulouse), Soufiane Boufal (Angers), Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers), Walid Cheddira (Bari), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), Abde Ezzalzouli (Osasuna), Abderrazak Hamdallah (Al Ittihad), Amine Harit (Olympique Marseille), Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)

Which Morocco players are missing the World Cup through injury?

Morocco will be without midfielder Imran Louza in Qatar after he picked up a nasty ankle injury in October. The Watford man isn't set to return to action until next year.

There are also concerns about Amine Harit after he was carried off on a stretcher in Marseille's Ligue 1 clash against Monaco in their final bout before the World Cup. Described by manager Igor Tudor as a "very big injury", Harit's knee has put his World Cup in serious jeopardy.

Ez Abde and Tarik Tissoudali also failed to make the 26-man squad due to their respective injuries.

On a brighter note, West Ham defender Nayef Aguerd is heading to Qatar despite picking up a major injury just three games into his Hammers career. Aguerd's ankle injury, sustained in pre-season, kept him out of action for months but the defender has since made his return and is ready for the World Cup.

Who are Morocco's best players?

Achraf Hakimi
Achraf Hakimi has four goal contributions in 14 Ligue 1 appearances for PSG this season / Xavier Laine/GettyImages

Achraf Hakimi

It's been a relatively quiet 2022/23 campaign for Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi, but the live wire in defence will undoubtedly serve as Morocco's driving force in Qatar. Hakimi has scored eight times in 52 caps for the national team.

Hakim Ziyech

Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech has been pretty anonymous in 2022, but Morocco supporters are thrilled to have him back playing for the Atlas Lions. After refusing to play under the previous regime and retiring from international football earlier this year, new manager Walid Regragui immediately recalled the 29-year-old and he is heading to Qatar.

Youssef En-Nesyri

Youssef En-Nesyri is Morocco's fourth all-time leading goalscorer with 14 goals. Like his fellow star teammates, the striker has endured a subdued 2022/23 campaign thus far. Nevertheless, he'll be looking to make a name for himself with the world watching.

Morocco predicted starting lineup

Achraf Hakimi may well be the star of this Morocco side, but it's likely that he won't even start in his preferred position at the World Cup. The presence of the technically proficient Noussair Mazraoui, now of Bayern Munich, at right-back means Hakimi will switch over to the left. Lucien Favre utilised the PSG star on the opposite flank plenty of times during his spell at Borussia Dortmund.

Walid Regragui will be expected to deploy a 4-3-3 in Qatar.

Morocco predicted XI: Bono; Mazraoui, Dari, Saiss, Hakimi; Amrabat, Ounahi, Sabiri; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal

Morocco's form going into the World Cup

Morocco's 2022 started with a disappointing quarter-final exit at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Atlas Lions were beaten by losing finalists Egypt in extra-time.

Since then, Morocco have lost just once in seven games. They were handily beaten by the USA in a summer friendly, but they've made a bright start to their 2023 AFCON qualifying campaign and were able to pick up an impressive 2-0 victory over Chile in September.

Morocco's last five results (all competitions)

Morocco 0-0 Paraguay Morocco 2-0 Chile Liberia 0-2 Morocco Morocco 2-1 South Africa USA 3-0 Morocco

Where will Morocco finish in the World Cup?

Despite Belgium appearing to be the standout side in Group F, the group is, in fact, very well-balanced and Morocco certainly have a chance of progressing into the knockout phase for just the second time in their World Cup history.

Belgium are an ageing outfit still clinging on to the prized possessions of their 'Golden Generation', while Croatia are similarly ancient but are still hugely talented.

Canada have garnered a lot of hype ahead of their first-ever World Cup appearance, but Morocco will fancy their chances of beating them on Matchday 3. If they can take points of the two European sides, the Atlas Lions may well be in business.

However, the form of Morocco's key men heading into the tournament is a concern and, on the balance, you'd have to fancy Belgium and Croatia to progress from this tight group.

Prediction: Group stage exit