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Morocco have history when it comes to the World Cup. In 1986 they became the first African side to reach the knockout stages, winning a group containing Portugal, Poland, and England, and only losing narrowly to eventual champions West Germany. Then, in 1998, an exciting Moroccan side was only minutes away from making the last 16 again, only for Norway to steal a late winner against Brazil and send the Atlas Eagles home.

Twenty years on, their return to the tournament has been underpinned by one of the most parsimonious defences in modern international football. After conceding one goal in a two-legged playoff against Equatorial Guinea, they went on to keep six clean sheets from six through their qualifying group. There were a few goals too, most notably a six-goal thrashing against Mali and a very impressive 2-0 away win against Cote d’Ivoire. Those who remember the 1998 team fondly will be delighted to see former Coventry City cult hero Mustapha Hadji on the bench, as assistant to experienced coach Herve Renard.

Portugal, the reigning European champions qualified for Russia 2018 with ease, winning nine of 10 qualifiers and averaging more than three goals a game. But perhaps more significant was the manner of their Euro 2016 victory. Crudely put, Portugal decided that the best way to make progress in an international tournament was to prioritize ‘not losing’ over ‘winning’, then take things from there. They ended up lifting the trophy despite only managing one win inside 90 minutes, trusting extra time, penalty shootouts, and just a little good fortune to make the difference.

We can probably expect something similar this time around, from a similar squad. Cristiano Ronaldo is still going ahead of what may be his last major tournament. On the younger end of things, Andre Silva hasn’t made much of an impact in Serie A with AC Milan, but he’s been prolific in the Europa League and scored nine in qualifying. Meanwhile, the exciting Bernardo Silva will have spent a year working with Pep Guardiola, though at the time of writing he hasn’t cracked the Manchester City first team.

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Cheap Flights to Moscow

Origin Departure date Return date Find Ticket

Briansk

30.01.2018

03.02.2018

Tickets from 31

Ufa

03.04.2018

17.04.2018

Tickets from 35

Krasnodar

29.03.2018

01.04.2018

Tickets from 35

Murmansk

27.02.2018

21.03.2018

Tickets from 35

Saransk

09.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 36

Saint Petersburg

27.02.2018

06.03.2018

Tickets from 36

Naberevnye Chelny

27.01.2018

04.02.2018

Tickets from 36

Makhachkala

01.03.2018

18.03.2018

Tickets from 37

Rostov

25.01.2018

27.01.2018

Tickets from 40

Sochi

21.02.2018

28.02.2018

Tickets from 41

Samara

22.01.2018

24.01.2018

Tickets from 45

Kazan

13.02.2018

15.02.2018

Tickets from 46

Debrecen

02.02.2018

05.02.2018

Tickets from 49

Nizhniy Novgorod

08.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 52

Volgograd

15.03.2018

19.03.2018

Tickets from 52

Nazran

15.02.2018

19.02.2018

Tickets from 54

Astrakhan

16.03.2018

17.03.2018

Tickets from 54

Vladikavkaz

02.02.2018

09.02.2018

Tickets from 54

Cheboksary

29.01.2018

30.01.2018

Tickets from 54

Nalchik

04.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 54

Perm

04.03.2018

05.03.2018

Tickets from 54

Ulyanovsk

01.03.2018

10.03.2018

Tickets from 54

Simferopol

26.01.2018

28.01.2018

Tickets from 59

Mineralnye Vody

13.02.2018

15.02.2018

Tickets from 60

Bourgas

02.06.2018

25.08.2018

Tickets from 60

Lipetsk

03.02.2018

04.02.2018

Tickets from 63

Surgut

20.02.2018

20.02.2018

Tickets from 63

Ekaterinburg

10.02.2018

13.02.2018

Tickets from 67

Karlsruhe

15.03.2018

18.03.2018

Tickets from 70

Memmingen

01.03.2018

04.03.2018

Tickets from 70

Bratislava

02.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 70

Gyoumri

17.03.2018

18.03.2018

Tickets from 71

Tyumen

07.03.2018

26.03.2018

Tickets from 71

Chelyabinsk

13.02.2018

13.02.2018

Tickets from 72

Belgorod

28.02.2018

02.03.2018

Tickets from 77

Minsk

12.02.2018

18.02.2018

Tickets from 79

Voronezh

19.05.2018

03.06.2018

Tickets from 80

Arkhangelsk

31.01.2018

02.02.2018

Tickets from 81

Stavropol

06.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 88

Krasnojarsk

12.02.2018

18.03.2018

Tickets from 90

Yerevan

22.02.2018

22.03.2018

Tickets from 91

Syktyvkar

27.01.2018

29.01.2018

Tickets from 91

Vienna

30.01.2018

01.02.2018

Tickets from 92

Larnaca

14.02.2018

21.02.2018

Tickets from 92

Kursk

31.01.2018

31.01.2018

Tickets from 95

Cologne

08.03.2018

12.03.2018

Tickets from 96

Penza

23.02.2018

12.03.2018

Tickets from 96

Gazipasa

18.02.2018

02.03.2018

Tickets from 97

Kaliningrad

01.09.2018

30.09.2018

Tickets from 97

Magnitogorsk

09.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 101

Tbilisi

21.02.2018

28.02.2018

Tickets from 104

Milan

01.03.2018

18.03.2018

Tickets from 108

Istanbul

21.02.2018

28.02.2018

Tickets from 108

Gerona

25.01.2018

28.01.2018

Tickets from 111

Orenburg

04.03.2018

06.03.2018

Tickets from 112

Tivat

10.02.2018

13.02.2018

Tickets from 114

Munich

19.02.2018

26.02.2018

Tickets from 114

Novosibirsk

24.01.2018

24.01.2018

Tickets from 115

Kirov

23.02.2018

25.02.2018

Tickets from 116

Pisa

16.02.2018

05.03.2018

Tickets from 116

Karlovy Vary

17.02.2018

24.02.2018

Tickets from 116

Khanty-Mansiysk

28.01.2018

30.01.2018

Tickets from 116

Ivanova

08.02.2018

22.02.2018

Tickets from 122

Groznyj

20.02.2018

27.02.2018

Tickets from 123

Izhevsk

18.03.2018

22.03.2018

Tickets from 124

Budapest

05.04.2018

12.04.2018

Tickets from 130

Kurgan

15.02.2018

25.02.2018

Tickets from 130

Warsaw

23.03.2018

28.03.2018

Tickets from 130

Saratov

01.03.2018

05.03.2018

Tickets from 132

Sofia

19.03.2018

26.03.2018

Tickets from 132

Petrozavodsk

06.02.2018

18.02.2018

Tickets from 132

Valencia

23.02.2018

25.02.2018

Tickets from 133

Barcelona

15.02.2018

22.02.2018

Tickets from 134

Thessaloniki

08.02.2018

18.03.2018

Tickets from 137

Belgrade

06.03.2018

15.03.2018

Tickets from 140

Berlin

16.03.2018

19.03.2018

Tickets from 141

Kogalym

31.01.2018

05.02.2018

Tickets from 141

Vilnius

08.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 141

Chisinau

15.02.2018

26.02.2018

Tickets from 144

Stockholm

12.02.2018

27.02.2018

Tickets from 145

Athens

20.05.2018

25.10.2018

Tickets from 145

Venice

21.02.2018

25.02.2018

Tickets from 146

Helsinki

03.05.2018

07.05.2018

Tickets from 149

Brussels

21.02.2018

27.02.2018

Tickets from 149

Stuttgart

08.02.2018

14.02.2018

Tickets from 150

Naples

27.02.2018

05.04.2018

Tickets from 150

Prague

06.04.2018

09.04.2018

Tickets from 150

Salekhard

31.01.2018

08.02.2018

Tickets from 150

Tel Aviv-Yafo

19.04.2018

26.04.2018

Tickets from 152

Kiev

24.03.2018

26.03.2018

Tickets from 152

Riga

25.01.2018

28.01.2018

Tickets from 153

Amsterdam

23.02.2018

24.02.2018

Tickets from 153

Anapa

21.05.2018

25.05.2018

Tickets from 156

Dusseldorf

25.05.2018

02.06.2018

Tickets from 157

Malaga

12.03.2018

26.05.2018

Tickets from 160

Frankfurt

06.04.2018

16.04.2018

Tickets from 162

Novy Urengoy

24.01.2018

26.01.2018

Tickets from 162

Hanover

02.04.2018

10.04.2018

Tickets from 162

London

17.11.2018

20.11.2018

Tickets from 162

Rome

06.03.2018

11.03.2018

Tickets from 162