Morocco vs Croatia: After losing by 0-2 against France, Morocco will take on the first semi-final losing side Croatia in the third-place playoff. Both teams will meet each other for the second time in World Cups history.
Their only previous meeting also occurred in this World Cup group stage, where Croatia was held at a goalless draw.
Talking about Croatia first, their brilliant World Cup journey came to an end as Argentina beat them by 3-0 in the first semi-final. Quarter-final hero Livaković made a clumsy challenge on Alvarez and conceded a penalty. Lionel Messi, playing his record 25th World Cup game, equalling Germany’s Lothar Matthäus as the joint most games in World Cup history, sent the ball into the top-right corner.
Moreover, this was Messi’s 11th World Cup goal, the most by any Argentine player in the past.
Julian Alvarez continued his brilliant World Cup goal and scored a solo goal four minutes later. In the 69th minute, Messi produced another magical show and beat Gvardiol two teams before giving a pass to Alvarez, who scored his second of the game and ensured his side’s booking to the final with a scorecard of 3-0.
Croatia didn’t create any danger till the end and failed to make it to the consecutive finals.
In the third-place playoff, they’ll face Morocco, who is in the form of their lives and were unfortunate not to win against France in the semi-final, as they created many chances, but just lacked the final touch. It’s worth mentioning that in the last game of this World Cup, which will be Ivan Perisic’s last ever game, he will be eyeing to become the all-time top scorer at the World Cup for his nation as he is currently joint with Davor Suker.
Morocco vs Croatia – Croatian midfielder Lavro Majer is happy with their World Cup campaign:
“Realistically speaking, before the start of the tournament, we would all have accepted reaching the semifinals. However, we started to dream about the trophy. Still, we will give everything on Saturday and try to win the bronze medal.”
Coach Dalic also talked to the press, where he spoke about the upcoming campaign and their World Cup exit:
“I told the players they need to keep their heads up, be proud of giving their maximum and be ready; we must prepare to fight for third place.”
“There is no blame on our guys; I congratulate them for everything they’ve done at this World Cup. Now we must get up, dust ourselves off and try to win the bronze medal.”
Josko Gvardiol played the previous game with painkilling injections and is doubtful to feature against Morocco. And as Dalic said, he won’t put anyone ‘whose even eyelashes hurt’.
It is expected that Brozovic, who suffered an injury and withdrew in the 50th minute, won’t be playing this game.
Morocco vs Croatia – Croatia Probable Starting XI:
Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Sutalo, Sosa, Modric, Jakic, Kovacic, Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic
On the other hand, Morocco finally got stopped by defending champions France in the second semi-final. Theo Hernandes scored the opener in the fifth minute, the first goal Morocco conceded by an opposing team player in this mega event.
In the 20th-minute game, captain Romain Saiss’s ongoing injury didn’t allow him to play anymore, and he got subbed off. Morocco continued pushing forward and created a few excellent chances in the final minutes of the first half but wasn’t able to find the equaliser.
In the break, Noussair Mazraoui also subbed off as his ongoing injury didn’t allow him further to be on the pitch. In the 79th minute, Kolo Muani, who came in just 44 seconds ago, sent the ball back of the net through a tap-in. Morocco produced a threat in every game phase but lacked the final touch.
In their third-place playoff against Croatia, Morocco will be aiming not to concede any goal as they have the chance to become just the second team to keep five clean sheets in a World Cup after Spain did this in the 2010 edition.
Their opponent Croatia has had a brilliant campaign as well, but Argentina proved too much for them.
In this game, we’ll see some new faces, as Regragui said to give opportunities to the players who didn’t feature in this World Cup.
“It will be difficult on a mental level. I will give opportunities to those who did not play, and we will try to clinch third place.”
“The important thing is that we presented a good look to our team and that football in Morocco is not far from the top level.”
Morocco vs Croatia – Morocco Probable Starting XI:
Bono, Hakimi, El-Yamiq, Dari, Attiyat-Allah, Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah, Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal
Morocco vs Croatia Match Facts:
* Location: Al-Rayyan, Qatar
* Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
* Date: 17 December, Saturday
* Kick-off Time: 15:00 GMT
Morocco vs Croatia – Conclusion:
Both teams will see each other for the second time in four weeks. After failing to qualify for the consecutive finals, Croatia will be aiming to win the bronze medal by winning against Morocco, who have defied all the odds in the World Cup and, after playing well against France as well, will go all in to end their journey with bronze medals in their necks.