Spain's Juan Mata
To say it was a disappointing tournament, for the nation that boasts the status of both World and European champions, would be an understatement.
Having already been sent packing after their second loss, this time to Honduras, the Spanish were out to gain some semblance of pride. Their North African opponents, however, were still vying for second place and a spot in the quarterfinals. It promised to be an exciting encounter.
The Moroccans opted for the counter-attacking approach that suited the flare of Zakaria Labyad and the movement of Noureddine Amrabat. It was the latter who was involved in Morocco’s best chance of the first half, coming in the 27th minute. Ambrabat burst forward with the ball before slipping it wide. The resulting cross was low and hard across the six-yard box before it eventually fell to Abdelaziz Barrada on the left hand side of the box, and his driven shot dragged just wide of De Gea’s left hand post.
Morocco had another half chance when Labyad’s free kick went just wide. However, the chance of the half fell to Spain’s number seven. Chelsea’s Juan Mata was the architect with an intuitive through ball finding Adrian Lopez, but his fierce effort smashed Mohamed Amsif’s left hand post. This was an example of the bad luck Manchester United’s David De Gea referred to when he spoke to The Reporters’ Academy. “I think we haven’t been very lucky in this tournament. The other day against Honduras we tried to score many times and we couldn’t.”
Spain had another chance in the 67th minute. A cross from the left found Mata in space but his effort went wide. Two minutes later, Spain had the greatest chance of the lot. Adrian found himself one-on-one with Amsif, but his audacious chip missed the mark completely.
Spain’s just couldn’t prevail. This time, substitute, Christian Tello saw his goal-bound header cleared off the line by Morocco’s Abdelatif Noussir. The usually prolific Mata had another great chance to open the scoring, but again his technique was well off as he scuffed his right footed volley over the bar.
Morocco also kept in search of what would surely be the winner. A swift counter attack resulted in an over hit cross from Barrada.
The final effort came deep into stoppage time. Adriano forced a one handed save from Amsif but, as De Gea stated, “these Olympic Games have not been our games,” and “the team all tried, we have worked, we have fought to the end, but it wasn’t to be.”
Full time score: Spain 0 Morocco 0. A result that sends both teams crashing out in fourth and third place, respectively.
Even though Spain failed to even get a single goal at these games, they will still be contenders at World Cups and European Championships to come.
This piece was written by Mike Marron of The Reporters' Academy, a media production company run by young people. The Reporters' Academy is integrated into the world of media, education and employment, based in two great sporting cities, Manchester and Melbourne, and is officially Inspired by London 2012.