Portugal vs. Morocco live stream info, channel, news: How to watch World Cup 2018 on TV and online
Is this the World Cup where Cristiano Ronaldo finally sets the world alight on a global stage? Judging by his first appearance in Russia, it seems so.
The Real Madrid superstar’s exceptional hat-trick – including a wonderful free-kick – earned Portugal a well-deserved draw in their opening game against Spain last week.
Morocco, on the other hand, were on the wrong end of a shock 1-0 defeat to Iran, meaning they are one defeat away from booking their flights home from Russia.
Please allow a moment for the blog to load…
What time is it?
Portugal vs Morocco kicks off at 1pm.
Where can I watch it?
The game will be shown live on BBC One.
Portugal 2-0 Morocco. Ronaldo looks on it, make no mistake about it. Just look at how he bullies smaller teams in the Champions League to get a taster of what he could do in the remaining two games in this group. It is feasible Portugal qualify for the Round of 16 with Ronaldo on six or seven goals personally.
With an elbow on the desk and one hand propping up his chin, the Portugal manager Fernando Santos takes question after question about Cristiano Ronaldo with the resignation of a pub landlord waiting for the last boisterous clientele to drink up and clear off.
Why, he must wonder, does no one ever ask how he masterminded a European championship-winning team built from one single superstar and 10 others you might struggle to name.
For 20 minutes during a press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium this week, Santos was asked whether Ronaldo – who has an estimated net worth of $US450 million ($608 million) – could break the 1958 record of 13 goals at a single tournament by Just Fontaine, the Morocco-born France international. The Portugal coach had run out of politeness.
“Maybe. I don’t know. This is a World Cup, and these are all national teams. The important thing is to respect Morocco and all our opponents,” he said. Portugal were due to play Morocco overnight Australian time.
The issue for those who would like a break from Ronaldo, even a 63-year-old coach whose team won a Euro 2016 final against France in Paris without their No 7 for 85 of the 120 minutes, is that the relentless CR7 was already leading the big names at Russia 2018 towards the end of tournament’s first week.
Lionel Messi? Missed a penalty. Neymar? Limping after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Eden Hazard? Failed to fill his boots against Panama. Thomas Muller? Anonymous against Mexico. Fontaine? Now 84 and unlikely to add to his international tally.
Over the years, the cult of Ronaldo, the obsessive hunting of the Ballon D’Or, the dizzying number of goals, the unashamedly distraught reaction to not being passed the ball at every occasion, the constant shooting – has also become an unending conflict.
Every goal and its accompanying celebration now has to be a point proven against someone or something, whether those targets are interpreted as commercials featuring Messi and farmyard animals, or veiled messages to the Spanish tax authorities.
When Patrice Evra tells the story of being invited to lunch at Ronaldo’s home during their time at Manchester United and being served a joyless plate of plain chicken and salad before his host insisted on a game of two-touch football, that too feeds into the legend of the perfectionist.
The man who would forego a little sauce to bestride the football world and all its rewards, including lucrative endorsements with Egyptian steel companies and that Japanese invention that helps you develop a six-pack. The argument can get a little wearying at times, as if to concede any weakness or self-doubt would be to admit to a defeat in itself.
You have to wonder how he will cope with the decline, whenever it does come – by current standards some time around his mid-40s.
When Ronaldo came into the press room at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi last week, notably content and at peace after that dramatic hat-trick against Spain, it did occur whether this tournament might indeed be the peak in a colossal career of achievement. Zinedine Zidane turned 34 during the 2006 World Cup finals, when he was still arguably the tournament’s best player, and Ronaldo does not reach 34 until next February.
His performance against Spain was the textbook late-era Ronaldo, picking out the moments he could prevail and the individuals in the Spain team whose vulnerabilities he could exploit. He won the penalty from Nacho, a teammate at Real Madrid he will know well and a downgrade on the first-choice right back Dani Carvajal.
He may well have spotted something in David de Gea that tempted him into the shot for the second that the goalkeeper let in – not that it takes much for Ronaldo to shoot. It was Ronaldo who won the foul for the free-kick from which he struck a glorious third.
Sense of awe
An equally remarkable testament to all those years of dedication to plain chicken was one first-half sprint again from Portugal’s area to Spain’s to support a counter-attack. Fifa clocked his top speed at 33.98km/h, and the footage of him rocketing past younger teammates will resonate most among the World Cup’s competing players, who will have noted that example of his physicality.
It contributes to the general sense of awe around him from most of his peers, the glances his way in the tunnel, the surreptitious shirt exchange requests – all of which play into the influence he has on the game and the tournament.
Santos did drop into the conversation that it was he who first decided that Ronaldo might be best moved back into a central position in his 30s, rather than anyone at Real Madrid.
The Portugal manager concluded with some more praise for his captain and then the observation: “I have never seen one player win a game on his own.” Which strictly speaking is true, but then teams without players like Ronaldo also tend not to win tournaments.
A World Cup winners’ medal would leave Ronaldo no heights left to scale and even with Portugal as the current European champions it feels improbable. Yet against Spain there was the unmistakable aura about him. The moments aside from his goals when he did that thing he often does when the action goes stagnant, dropping deep to take a few touches on the ball, just to remind his opponents who he is and what he is capable of doing.