Morocco took advantage of two mistakes by Serbia to overcome their first-level test in a competitive friendly match played here.
Friday night’s meeting brought together two teams that live in opposite realities: the North African, with continuity as a norm and a perfectly defined backbone, and the Balkan, which seeks to build an identity in record time, reports EFE news agency.
It was the first match that Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic led with full powers. He had served as interim coach between October and December, a period in which Serbia played two friendlies against China and South Korea.
Krstajic put on the table a 4-3-3 formation that generated offensive options from the “trivote” consisting of Nemanja Matic, Andrija Zivkovic and Adem Ljajic.
However, the Serbian attack was overturned very early in the direct game on Aleksandar Mitrovic, whose individual control over the Moroccan centrals was diluted as the minutes passed.
Morocco, for its part, came out with very clear ideas; the coach, Hervé Renard, fielded an almost identical 11 to the one who signed the World Cup standings with a victory over Côte d’Ivoire (2-0) and made only three substitutions.
After an energetic departure from Serbia, the “Atlas Lions”, clothed by a large contingent of Moroccan fans, gradually imposed their rhythm and, with their advanced pressure, repeatedly compromised the Balkan strategy.
The technical shortcomings of the double pivot integrated by Karim El Ahmadi and M’Barek Boussoufa did not prevent Morocco from gradually winning the battle in the centre of the field.
In the first half hour of the match, a ball without too much danger directed towards Nordin Amrabat ended with the Leganés player knocked down in the area by the Spartak center-back Nikola Maksimovic.
Serbia regained ground thanks to the errors of the African defenders with the ball on their feet, and in the 37th minute it was tied with a good goal from Dusan Tadic.
Ziyech crossed from the right, Maksimovic lost the mark and the Moroccan point, Khalid Boutaib, topped the score up to 2-1.
After the break, the rhythm of the game slowed down while Krstajic introduced successive changes, none of which amounted to a coup d’état.
Morocco kept up the favourable result without excessive difficulties, to the delight of the fans in Turin.
Serbia, who will share a group with Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica in the World Cup, will continue their preparation for the tournament next Tuesday with a friendly against Nigeria.
On the same day, Morocco (in the group of Spain, Iran and Portugal), will face Uzbekistan in the Moroccan city of Casablanca.