Croatia 2-1 Morocco: What’s your prediction?
Croatia take on Morocco to begin their World Cup campaign as they hope to not only execute a repeat of an astonishing 2018 World Cup run but aspire to go a step further this time around.
But an inspired Morocco are fired up by Saudi Arabia's stunning upset of World Cup favourites Argentina. Their coach Walid Regragui said as he backed his team to pull off a similar feat when they face Croatia in their first Group F match on Wednesday.
Croatia's Modric was player of the tournament at the World Cup in Russia, when Croatia defied the odds to come from behind and go to extra time in an unprecedented three knockout matches, before losing to France in the final.
The midfielder will have adept company in the middle of the park as he along with Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic make up one of the most expert midfield trios in the World Cup.
On the other hand, Morocco, in their arsenal, have two of the most exciting fullbacks in Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui galloping up and down the opposite flanks.
An enthralling contest awaits as both teams come into the World Cup on the back of some great results but Croatia might just manage to edge Morocco due to the experience, and the game-management ability they have on their side.
23rd November, 04:00 pm, Bangladesh time
Al-Bayt Stadium, Al-Khor, Qatar
Prediction: Croatia 2-1 Morocco
Croatia: (4-3-3) Livakovic (GK), Sosa, Gvardiol, Lovren, Stanisic, Modric, Brosovic, Kovacic, Perisic, Kramaric, Vlasic
Morocco: (4-3-3) Bono ((GK), Mazraoui, Saiss, Dari, Hakimi, Amrabat, Amallah, Ounahi, Boufal, En-Nesyri, Ziyech
Following is a statbox on Croatia .
FIFA Ranking: 12
Croatia have appeared at five World Cups since breaking away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, starting in 1998 in France and since then only missing out on South Africa 2010. They reached the 2018 final in Russia, beating England in the last four before losing 4-2 to France in Moscow. In 1998 they reached the semis and finished third after a 2-1 win over Netherlands in the playoff.
How they qualified:
Croatia lost their opening qualifying game away to Slovenia in March 2021 but went on to win seven and draw two, conceding a total of only four goals. They clinched top spot, and automatic qualification for Qatar, by beating Russia 1-0 in their final group game last November thanks to a late own goal by defender Fedor Kudryashov.
Croatia followed up their World Cup qualifying success by topping their Nations League group ahead of Denmark, France and Austria, winning four of their six games, drawing one and losing only once.
Following is a statbox on Morocco
FIFA Ranking: 22
Morocco have appeared in five World Cups. Their best performance was in 1986 when they became the first African country to reach the second round, where they lost to a last-gasp goal by eventual finalists West Germany. Since then Morocco have always been eliminated at the group stage.
How they qualified
Morocco cruised comfortably through the African qualifiers, with a perfect record in six games in a group that included Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sudan. In the playoffs, Morocco beat DR Congo 5-2 on aggregate to reach their sixth World Cup.
After securing qualification in March, Morocco lost 3-0 in a friendly against the United States in June, but started their 2023 African Nations Cup qualifiers later in the month with two victories, over South Africa and Liberia. They beat Chile in September before being held to a 0-0 draw by Paraguay in Spain.