Morocco had to settle for a draw against Ukraine in their last match in a game they probably felt they should’ve won but, interestingly, Slovakia came off second best when they visited Ukraine just over six months ago. Based on Football Form Labs’ ranking system these two sides are separated by just three ranking places with Morocco having the slight edge at 38th in the world due to their recent good form, winning nine of their last 12 unbeaten matches.
Given they’ve had success both home and away during this recent run, while the European side have lost each of their last three on the road, the neutral venue looks set to favour the Moroccans.
This is a battle of the only two European top-20 FIFA ranked sides to miss out on the World Cup finals, with South Americans Chile the only other such team failing to reach Russia. Italy are W6-D2-L1 at home or neutral venues since the start of 2017, keeping the opposition out in six of them. Holland, meanwhile, have a similar W6-D1-L2 record since November 2016 at neutral venues or on the road, conceding just one strike in the last four of these.
However, both these runs included plenty of games with lower quality opposition, and this looks set to be an even and cagey low-scoring affair, with neither side particularly threatening going forward. The visitors could only salvage a draw in their last matches against Slovakia as they’ve produced mixed results in their three matches under Ronald Koeman, while Roberto Mancini’s men have recorded just one victory from their last five matches prior to their Friday night game with France, including stalemates with both England and Sweden.