Croatia vs Morocco. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats, and more

Hakim Ziyech and Luka Modrić will try to bring their boys to the podium

Croatia will meet Morocco in the FIFA World Cup 2022 3rd place match at the Khalifa International Stadium. The fixture will take place on Saturday, December 17, beginning at 20:30 IST.

The World Cup is about to become history. The warm-up before the final match will be the game for third place. Croatia and Morocco will meet there.

The bronze-medal games are usually overshadowed by the main encounter. However, the upcoming meeting is drawing a lot of interest. Both teams have enchanted millions of fans around the world with their outstanding performances.

Before facing the world’s strongest teams, Croatia and Morocco had played head-to-head on day four of the tournament. This particular game ended in a draw. The Croatians were closer to winning the game as they created a number of dangerous opportunities but their finishing let them down. Morocco, though, also had their chances to score. However, the Moroccans were twice less dangerous than the Croats in terms of the number of such opportunities.

There will be no peaceful resolution now, with only one team getting a set of bronze medals. There is no doubt that both teams are incredibly motivated and deserve to be included in the list of Mundial medallists without a dispute, however – just one victor will emerge, the only question is which team comes into the match as favourites and have a better chance? Parimatch News will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the match.

Croatia News & Current Form: 

Four years ago in Russia, the Croats reached the final, winning every game of the play-offs in extra time. The squad, aged by four years, was only strong enough to reach the semi-finals this time. Zlatko Dalic will definitely have to make adjustments before the last match in Qatar.

Croatia lacked a forward who could score. For example, prolific Mario Mandzukic came to Qatar, but only as a coach. But the Croatians had perhaps the best midfield of the tournament. Only Argentina were able to overcome the trio of central midfielders: Luka Modric –  Mateo KovacicMarcelo Brozovic (the European side, tired after two consecutive overtimes and a penalty shoot-out in the earlier stages of the play-offs, had much to do with it). However, Morocco has a lot to offer the leaders of Zlatko Dalic’s team in midfield.

Mateo Kovacic said:

“Back in Russia 2018, I was privileged to learn from players like Modric, Rakitic, and Mandzukic how to prepare for a World Cup, how to represent your country. And how to fight in a major tournament”.

The Croats also lacked freshness and depth. Zlatko Dalic used the least number of players – 18 – of all the coaches of the teams that made the play-offs. Only 15 of them featured in the starting line-up. Nine players featured from the starting line-up in all six games.

The match for third place will be the last match at the World Cup for one of the best midfielders in history – Luka Modric. Croatia’s national team leader is now 37, but he is playing his final World Cup of his career at the highest level – hardly better than the 2018 tournament, where he was voted best player.

Interestingly, the Checkered reached the semi-finals without winning a single match in regular and additional time in the play-offs – both the Japanese and the Brazilians were knocked out in a penalty shoot-out. It didn’t work out with Argentina – the brilliant Lionel Messi didn’t allow it.

Croatia will approach the match for the third place without any major problems with the squad – the only question mark is the condition of Marcelo Brozovic, who was substituted on 50 minutes against Argentina because of an injury. However, the coach Dalic called it a “precautionary measure”, and the midfielder himself seems ready to play against Morocco.

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Morocco News & Current Form: 

The Moroccan team showed a masterclass in defensive play. Morocco has also demonstrated that it is a team that can hold the initiative too. The Belgians and the Portuguese had a taste of that in parts of the encounter. Even the French suffered most of the semi-final from Moroccan counterattacks.

Walid Regraghi is arguably the main contender for best coach at the 2022 World Cup. He showed tactical flexibility and set Morocco up with an almost flawlessly organized game. Relegation to the semi-finals is no miracle, but the result of a job well done. Even injuries to key defensive players did not affect the overall quality of Morocco’s game.

The energetic pressure players Sofyan Amrabat, Sofiane Boufal and Azzedine Ounahi have shown that they can play the ball better than the Spaniards, press and fight harder than the Portuguese and cause problems for the world champions France. This mobile triangle is an essential element of Morocco’s entertaining yet reliable performance in the championship. But the duel of the center-back musketeers does not end the intrigue of the match for third place.

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Croatia’s left flank – aka Morocco’s right flank – is where a lot will depend on. The African team’s main stars, PSG defender Achraf Hakimi and Chelsea attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, work brilliantly together here. Stopping them will involve a combination of youth and experience – 20-year-old talent Josko Guardiola and 2018 World Cup finalist Ivan Perisic.

Any slip-up in the match could cost the team their medals, which, if they win, could be historic for Morocco (no African team has ever made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup). Croatia could make up their third set of medals in six tournaments.

The Moroccans also had a post-match “lottery” in Qatar, but only once – in the 1/8 finals against Spain. And the clean sweep victories are three times as many as those of the Croats. 

The Moroccans believe referee César Ramos failed to award two penalties against France in the 2022 World Cup semifinals.  The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has filed a formal complaint to FIFA against the performance of referee Cesar Ramos in the semi-final match of World Cup 2022 against France.

The Moroccans were most offended by Sofiane Boufal’s warning in the 27th minute. Theo Hernandez slipped and his outstretched leg caught Boufal in the French penalty area. The referee decided to show the Angers wingman a yellow card instead of awarding a penalty to France.

FRMF also felt that the referee should have awarded the penalty when Selim Amallah was brought down in the French penalty area.

The teams perform in a slightly similar style. Croatia and Morocco achieved a good result in the World Cup thanks to excellent defensive play. The Moroccans were unable to score for five games before the semi-final against France (0-2), their only goal in the group stage being a home goal. In total, the Atlas Lions have conceded three goals in six games in Qatar, two of which came against the French in the semi-finals.

The Moroccans approach the game for third place with serious problems in the squad. Two key defenders, Romain Saiss and Noussair Mazraoui, were replaced due to injuries during the match against France. Also, key center-back Nayef Aguerd, Morocco’s second most expensive player, according to Transfermarkt, was injured in the quarter-final against Spain.

Croatia and Morocco went unbeaten for most of the World Cup course up to the semi-finals. It was only there that they lost for the first time at intervals of twenty-four hours. And the Moroccans conceded the first goals from foreign players at the tournament – before that there had only been an own-goal from their own. The encounter between the Croats and the Moroccans marked the beginning of the story and will conclude with it. Quite a symbolic finish.

Croatia form guide: D-W-D-W-W-L

Morocco form guide: D-W-W-W-W-L

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Croatia vs Morocco: Head-To-Head Record:

  • December 11, 1996: Croatia 2-2 Morocco (Croatia won 7-6 on penalties) (Hassan II Trophy);
  • November 23, 2022: Croatia 0-0 Morocco (FIFA World Cup).

Croatia vs Morocco Predicted XI:

Croatia’s possible starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Sutalo, Sosa; Modric, Jakic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic.

Morocco’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Bono; Hakimi, El-Yamiq, Dari, Attiyat-Allah; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.

Statistical preview of the match Croatia vs Morocco:

  • Croatia is ranked 12th in FIFA ranking.
  • Morocco is ranked 22nd in FIFA ranking.
  • Croatia’s First XI average age 29.1 yrs.
  • Morocco’s First XI average age 27.1 yrs.
  • The Moroccan team have renewed their historic record at the World Cup by a considerable margin. They have only made it out of the group stage once so far, breaking through to the 1/8th final at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
  • The Croats can finish among the winners for the second World Cup in a row. 
  • The Checkered already have one bronze medal in their collection, from the 1998 World Cup.
  • The Moroccans conceded twice as many goals in one match against the French as they had in their previous five games in Qatar.
  • Croatia suffered their second major defeat in 2022 when they were thrashed 3-0 by Austria in the spring with a similar score.

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What has been said before the match:

Zlatko Dalić said:

“I believe the tiki-taka is history. Spain made 900 passes and lost to Morocco. France plays counter attacking football”.

“This is the seventh game in less than a month and we have spent ourselves. The consequences are felt, and we will see how it will be during the day. We have to be careful and I want the players to be honest and report every problem. We need those who can give more than 100 percent. Everyone wants to play, and we will have to weigh well so that we don’t have to make quick substitutions. We have to block their counterattacks, and it is difficult to break through them. They will have to be patient and wait for their opportunity, and Croatia has to be better in some things”.

About Morocco team he said:

“Nobody expected them to go so far and they remind me of Croatia in ’98. They grew throughout the tournament, showed great emotion, enjoyed the support of the fans, and we have a tougher match ahead of us than in the first round. There were also unknowns in the first match. They are full of self-confidence, motivation and energy. Kudos to them for what they have done, they are not afraid of anyone. They are the most pleasant surprise, and there are many superpowers who failed, who were expected to be in the semi-finals.”

Walid Regragui commented Morocco’s loss to France:

“We lost Agerd in the warm-up. Saiss and Mazraoui were not out for the second half. That’s too many losses for us, but those who played gave their best. However, against France, the slightest mistake means immediate payback. We cannot go into the final with as many losses as we had in the first half. After the break, things were getting better. However, we failed to score, the team conceded a second goal”.

Commenting on the upcoming match with Croatia:

“In the match for third place it will be mentally tough. We will give playing time to those who have received less of it before. We want to finish third. The most important thing is to show our good side. Demonstrate that football exists in Morocco, that we have great fans”

“I guess it’s the worst game that we have to play. But we’re still excited to play it despite the disappointment. We obviously would have liked to be in the actual final but there is the third place we play for. we want to finish on the podium”.

“It is going to be quite difficult with fatigue, but there are also mental hurdles that we need to overcome. We know that Croatia will also want to finish third. We played them in our first game so it will be a nice finisher. It will be no walk in the park”.

Croatia vs Morocco Prediction:

A match between two highly motivated, bright teams awaits us. And it will be naive to expect a feast of goals from this encounter. Croatia and Morocco have demonstrated that they consistently deliver hard-earned results through good defensive play in the first place. 

The Moroccans can boast very noteworthy victories over the European tops – Spain and Portugal. And drawing parallels, Croatia are hardly far superior to the Pyrenean giants in terms of class (if they are actually better at all). Given that the Atlas Lions have only lost to the world champions in this Mundial, there is a lot to think about. In Morocco’s favour, there is also a greater variation in the squad, and a huge support from the fans, who even outshouted the French in the recent match. 

However, Morocco are coming into the match with serious problems in defense – in fact, three key defenders are unlikely to help the team at once. In addition, the Atlas Lions had one less day of rest after the semi-final.

Croatia, on the other hand, are one of the most experienced teams in the World Cup, and their squad has not changed much since the last tournament, when the team reached the final. This has allowed them to edge out several favourites from the tournament. Luka Modric, Dominic Livakovic and almost the entire defence are in top form, having failed just once, against Argentina.

Experience, ample rest, and a lack of injuries hint at a Croatian advantage. Especially since the group stage match was played with the Checkers’ advantage in ball possession (64% to 36%) and xG (0.5 vs. 0.3). 

Both teams also experience almost similar difficulties in attack. That is why the majority of their matches at the World Cup were low-scoring, with no more than two goals in total. The Croats have four out of six such games, and the Moroccans have five. One can, of course, assume that they will open up and put on a sparkling show. But, on the basis of objective inputs, the under 2.5 total in this particular fixture seems the most natural option.

Parimatch News staff prediction:

We say: the match total will be less than 2.5 – Yes.

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