Achraf Hakimi: Spain the favorite? "Honestly, they have to fear Morocco"
PSG right-back and Morocco international Achraf Hakimi sat with the Spanish newspaper Marca to discuss different topics.
Hakimi touched on his role in the national side, his past and present in Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter, and Paris Saint-Germain, and his feelings about the World Cup ahead of Morocco's game against Spain in the Round of 16.
Asked about his experience playing for top-tier clubs and what the World Cup means to him...
"It's unique. Playing for your country and even more now that we're making history, it's incredible," said Hakimi. "Watching the people rooting for us has helped us and given us strength to do even bigger things."
"These are moments you'll never forget." That comes from a player that already featured in the 2018 World Cup in Russia and has spent four years at the top of club football. "The World Cup is different, and it's been four years of learning."
"I am much more mature, I come with a different mentality," said Hakimi. "Also, I have different responsibilities now."
Asked about his role in the Morocco national team and how it compares to his role at PSG...
"I play wherever the team needs me," said Hakimi. "I just want to feel comfortable and help the team in whatever capacity I can."
Speaking about the role he plays in PSG compared to Morocco (he plays right-back too but with a much stronger lead), Hakimi said that "it's different."
"In Paris, there are great players. In Morocco I have a larger impact, I get more touches, I am more important and I feel more comfortable."
"It's different in Paris Saint-Germain: sometimes you run and don't touch the ball. In Morocco other players are always looking for me, they know my impact on the offensive and the defensive game."
"They trust me in Morocco and I try to pay them back."
Asked if he feels like the true leader of the Morocco national side...
"No, I can't have that indiviudal mentaility," said Hakimi. "We have a great team, I try to give it my all and help the youngsters, let them know about everything I learned about the game and what I went through in years past because I'm a reference point for them."
"There is true love out there, I feel it and I am thankful for it." Hakimi also said that people is letting him know he is doing "a great job" and that he feels "a lot of people from Morocco is focusing on me and loves me a lot."
Asked about the upcoming game against Spain on Tuesday, part of the Round of 16...
"Spain are a favorite team to win the World Cup since the start of the tournament," acknowledged Hakimi. "Spain are in the top-5 teams of the tournament but we have enormous confidence in ourselves."
"We do our work. We finished first in our group. We have earned a bit of respect," said Hakimi. "Spain must enter this game knowing that and they will need to pay us at least a bit of respect. Honestly, they have to fear Morocco."
Asked whether or not he could have represented Spain on the international stage...
"Yes, I played in the underage teams of Spain," Hakimi let Marca know. "We were in touch, I went with the senior squad to try it out. I spent a couple of days with them but it didn't feel like home, it wasn't the place for me."
Asked about Kylian Mbappe's thoughts about the Morocco national team's run in the World Cup...
"Mbappe isn't surprised. He knew what Morocco is capable of. We talk constantly because we're friends, we're always in touch on and off of the field," revealed Hakimi.
Morocco play Spain in the Round of 16 on Tuesday. The winner of that game will face the winner of the match between Portugal and Switzerland. Asked about a prediction, Hakimi didn't offer a final result but he said that"Morocco will beat Spain."