The losing semifinalists still have to play in the third-place match. Both Croatia and Morocco would prefer to be preparing for Sunday’s championship match, but Saturday’s first 90 minutes will be fascinating.
On Saturday afternoon, Croatia and Morocco will face off in the World Cup encounter that no team wants to play in.
The 2018 champions lost to Argentina 3-0 on Tuesday, preventing them from participating in the championship match in Qatar. Although Morocco put up a good fight, they had trouble turning their pressure into chances, much alone goals, against France.
At Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan, there will be a match for the bronze medal and an opportunity to complete the competition on a high note.
Form Guide: Croatia
By any standards, it ought to be considered a success for Croatia. On the one hand, a third-place match is undoubtedly overachieving, but on the other, they did reach the final in 2018 and their shocking defeat to Argentina must have left them with a bad taste in their mouths. As a result, they should play without inhibitions in this match, and you’d like to see them enjoy themselves and show off a little.
The final time we will ever see Luka Modric in a World Cup, he will want to do well for his nation in this match. His fight with Sofyan Ambrabat will be amazing.
Without winning a knockout game in regular time, Dalic’s team miraculously advanced to 2018 final and the 2022 semifinals. They are also no strangers to bronze medal contests, having defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in the 1998 third-place playoff during their first World Cup campaign.
Croatia won’t be relieved to learn that the third-place playoff has never been decided on kicks, and the unrestrained Moroccan supporters will doubtless continue to beat their drums to the fullest for one last ride. Croatia has repeatedly demonstrated its prowess in extra time and penalty shootouts.
Form Guide: Morroco
By becoming the first team from the continent to advance to the final, Morocco, the first African country to ever play in a World Cup semifinal, could have guaranteed their place in football history forever. In the Wednesday semi-final, Walid Regragui’s team certainly gave France some trouble, but Theo Hernandez’s acrobatic effort and Randal Kolo Muani’s tap-in 44 seconds after entering the field put an end to the Atlas Lions’ hopes of dominating Qatar.
For the semifinal loss against France, Morocco gambled on captain Romain Saiss and Noussair Mazraoui of Bayern Munich, but it did not pay off as both players were forced to leave the game due to injury.
The team breezed through the group stage, taking first place in Group F with 7 points (incidentally drawing Croatia along the way), defeating Spain, Portugal, and making Cristiano Ronaldo weep (thanks for that! ), and giving France a fierce battle before losing 2-0. A tournament full of firsts for Morocco, but also for Morocco as an African representation — the first African team to reach the semifinals and, presumably, the first to play in the third-place match. This is a Successful club that should remain good for years to come, led by Ziyech and Hakimi.
How the game could go
One can only hope that both sides switch from a defensive-first strategy to a goal-oriented one. There is a worry that Morocco would be so focused on finishing third—which would be a tremendous accomplishment—that they will continue to use relatively counterattacking and neutral defensive strategies. The suspicion is that they’ll go all out when you watch a squad play offense with such enthusiasm and talent as Ziyech and Hakimi.
Croatia in the last edition came in second. Many of their players, including possibly/likely the wizard Modric, are on their last call. Croatia must be prepared to start the game strongly and attack as they haven’t so far in this competition (except when they needed a last-minute goal). That ought to lead to a goal and start the game.
A trident of injured defenders would not spell optimism for any side, but Morocco’s backline stand-ins have put in performances to be proud of and are now facing a Croatia XI who are not renowned for any sort of attacking mastery.
Rearguards will likely come out on top in this bronze medal battle, but Regragui’s side need only improve their final ball to make their periods of pressure count, and we have belief in the Atlas Lions to do just that and end a magical World Cup journey with a podium finish.
We’re not expecting this game to be action-packed as both teams have struggled to score goals this tournament and have excellent defensive records, which is why we’re going with a draw after 90 minutes. Of course, these two teams know each other well from the group stage where they played out a 0-0 draw on their way to qualifying for the knockout stage ahead of the big favorites, Belgium. Both countries will want this third-place finish, especially Morocco which has broken so many records by getting the furthest any African nation ever has before. Bet9ja have 3.45, 1xbet have 3.50 and Paripesa have 3.50 odds.
Under 2.5 Goals
The first match in the group stage between Morocco and Croatia ended in a 0:0 draw. We expect something similar to happen this time but we still expect to see an exchange of goals. Our ideal outcome is the 1:1 draw. Both sides have shown that they can play attacking football but prefer to be defensive. Although the 3rd place is not that important, we should see traditional performances from both sides and an under. We’re expecting another tight and tense game as both sides have their pride to play for. Bet9ja have 1.93 odds, Paripesa have 1.96, and 1xbet have 1.96 odds.
Anytime Goalscorer (Croatia)
Ivan Perisic has scored six World Cup goals for Croatia, including one in the 2018 final against France – one more would make him their outright top scorer in the competition, surpassing Davor Suker. He hasn’t had a standout attacking performance but can. Bet9ja have 5.50 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 4.70.
Anytime Goalscorer (Morroco)
Youssef En-Nesyri has scored two goals from just two shots on target at the 2022 World Cup, including the winner against Portugal in the quarter-final. We suspect a more attacking performance from the team today and we suspect him to be amongst the goals today. Bet9ja have 3.00 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 3.00.
Football Lover. All-round junkie of the beautiful game. Could be found watching football most of the time. If not he’s writing about them or making some punditry you don’t agree with. A certain bias for Arsenal and Santos FC.