Spain started their Qatar 2022 World Cup campaign like a house on fire with a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica, which immediately put them in the conversation as one of the favourites to win the tournament. It’s fair to say that their performances since then have taken them back out of the discussion, with a 1-1 draw against Germany followed by a 2-1 defeat against Japan, which saw them lose top spot in Group E to the Blue Samurai. In fact, had it not been for a Germany comeback against Costa Rica on matchday three, Luis Enrique’s side would’ve found themselves on the plane home.
Morocco have been one of the revelations of the World Cup, both on and off the pitch. Did anyone expect them to finish above Croatia, beaten finalists in 2018, and Belgium, ranked number two in the world heading into the tournament, to win Group F? I would suggest few, if any, did. But that’s exactly what Walid Regragui’s side achieved, keeping clean sheets in a draw with the Croats and a ‘shock’ victory against the Belgians, which preceded another win versus Canada. Morocco should again be backed by a sizeable, vociferous support and head into the game full of confidence.
Morocco vs Spain: who is Fernando Rapallini?
The referee for Tuesday’s clash will be Fernando Rapallini from Argentina. The 44-year-old officiated his first match in the Argentinian Primera División in 2011 and became a FIFA-listed referee in 2014, taking charge of his first international fixture, Chile against El Salvador, the following year. At club level, Rapallini has refereed numerous cup final in his homeland and was the assistant VAR in the all-Brazilian 2020 Copa Libertadores final, in which Palmeiras took on Santos.
The Qatar 2022 World Cup is Rapallini’s third international tournament, with his first being the Copa América in 2019. Interestingly, the Argentine took part in a referee exchange program between CONMEBOL and UEFA in 2021 and, as a result, was selected as a referee for Euro 2020 (played in 2021), where he officiated three matches, including France’s dramatic penalty shootout defeat to Switzerland in the round of 16.
Rapallini, who also works for a family business which specialises in swimming pool design and maintenance, will be assisted by compatriots Juan Pablo Belatti and Diego Bonfa, with Raphael Claus of Brazil acting as the fourth official. Hopefully Belatti, Bonfa and Claus are fans of punk rock, which is what Rapallini normally entertains his team of officials with in the dressing room before play gets under way.
Morocco vs Spain: who is the VAR?
Both managers and sets of fans will probably hope that the VAR doesn’t have to get involved but if he does it will be Mauro Vigliano, also of Argentina, who will have Colombian Nicolás Gallo as his VAR assistant. Uruguay’s Nicolás Taran will be the offside VAR and Julio Buscunan of Chile will be the support VAR.