Football’s most prestigious tournament finally got underway on Thursday after the usual four-year break. Russia kicked of the proceedings with a resounding 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia. It’s now day two and once side featuring is Morocco.
The Moroccan’s start their tournament in what is arguably a must win game against Iran. Having been drawn in a group against the current European Champions Portugal and the 2010 World Champions Spain, points may be hard to come by.
Heading in to the tournament, the Moroccan side was revealed and noticeably two of their more high-profile players were left at home. Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal and Genoa’s Adel Taarabt with both snubbed.
Bad form from Boufal
At the end of the Premier League season, Boufal was awarded with the Carling Goal of the Season for an outstanding individual effort against West Brom. A remarkable goal, yes. A remarkable season, no.
In a torrid season for both the club and the player, Boufal found form hard to come by. Making just 11 league starts in total due to a mixture of bad form and injury, the Moroccan only managed to show glimpses of the talent the Saints paid a then club record fee for.
As shown by his goal of the season, when on form Boufal can cause defenders with his quick feet and ability to dribble with the ball but unfortunately, he just hasn’t been able to find the consistency required since arriving in England form France.
Contributing to just a measly four goals all season in the Premier League, Boufal left his sides attacking threat looking poor. After what has been a failed transfer for all parties involved, it certainly wouldn’t be too surprise if Southampton were to attempt to move the 24-year-old on. Having said that though, he is still very much in a stage of his career where he can adapt and learn.
Tough times for Taarabt
Once upon a time, Taraabt was a player lighting up the Premier League as a stand out player in a QPR side. His career though hasn’t been running quite as smoothly as he would have hoped since. At present he finds himself playing for Italian side Genoa, on loan from Benfica.
Past times have seen Taarabt’s attitude brought in to question. Back in 2014 his then manager Harry Redknapp claimed the attacking-midfielder was unfit to play having weighed in three stone overweight.
Redknapp said at the time: “”I can’t protect people who don’t want to run and train, and are about three stone overweight.”
“Taarabt is not injured. He’s not fit. He’s not fit to play football unfortunately.”
Astonishing to say the least that a professional would conduct him in such fashion and it hasn’t really improved in the years since.
Last year, Taarabt attacked Moroccan media and blasted them for publishing stories which were untrue.
He said: ““They keep publishing stories that I went partying here and there, which is not true.”
The player also slandered the quality of articles produced, claiming that most of them were, “from unprofessional journalists.”
The fact that he has been left out of his nations side for this squad will certainly have impacted him as an individual as he made it clear his delight at representing his country. However, as things stand Taarabt it has to be said isn’t doing enough to merit such rewards. As a player who was awarded Championship Player of the Year back in 2010/11, contributing to just four goals like he did last year, is not good enough for a season. Especially at the age of 29, an age of which he needs to start showing his experience and buckling down. It might be hard to see him breaking back into the Moroccan side unless he improves quickly, with players like Hakim Ziyech for competition it doesn’t look good at the moment.
What do you think about the pairs omission?
By James Miller