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Croatia vs Morocco at FIFA World Cup 2022

Croatia and Morocco will play in the FIFA World Cup third-place play-off on Saturday 17 December after both suffering semi-final defeats.

Runners-up from 2018 Croatia, were denied passage to final by Argentina who cruised past them with a 3-0 victory while Morocco, playing in their first-ever World Cup semi-final, were beaten 2-0 by reigning champions France.

Both teams will have a shot at redemption when they go head-to-head in a match for third-place.

The occasion will mark the second time the two football teams have met in Qatar. Croatia and Morocco played each other in the group stage of the tournament with the end result concluding with a 0-0 draw.

Though this is the game both teams would rather not be playing, there is still plenty at stake.

Morocco, who made history as the first African team to reach a World Cup semi-final, will be looking to cement their legacy with a third-place finish while Croatia will be hoping to wrap-up what has been an exceptionally consistent run of World Cup form for the country.

How have Croatia fared so far?

Modric’s quest for a World Cup title ended against Argentina in the semi-finals after leading Croatia to successive semi-finals. 

He converted one of the penalties as Croatia knocked Brazil out of the World Cup, beating the five-time champions 4-2 in a shootout to reach the semi-finals for the second consecutive time.

Neymar tied Pele’s record for most goals for the national team, giving Brazil the lead in extra time. But he wasn’t among the four Brazilian players to take a penalty in the shootout, instead reduced to tears on the field at Education City Stadium while the red-and-white clad Croatians celebrated.

Croatia won only one of their six games so far in regular time. They drew their opening match against Morocco 0-0, then beat Canada 4-1. The final game of their group was another 0-0 stalemate, against Belgium. In the Round of 16, Croatia needed penalties to overcome Japan and repeated the trick against Brazil. 

How have Morocco got on so far?

Morocco’s great World Cup run, in which they knocked out three of the of the world’s top 10 ranked teams, was ended by France in the semi-final. They conceded early on from a wonderful Theo Hernandez close range effort, but the North Africans rallied and threatened for much of the game, before Randal Kolo Muani doubled France’s lead deep into the second half.

The Atlas Lions finished top of Group F after beating Belgium and Canada and earning a goalless draw with Croatia. The last-16 clash saw Morocco celebrate a historic World Cup win over Spain. They beat Luis Enrique’s side 3-1 on penalties after neither side managed to score in normal and extra time. They then had a hard-fought 1-0 win over Portugal to become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals.

Morocco have benefitted from their ties having the atmosphere of a home game due to the groundswell of support not just from travelling fans but the endorsement of the Arab world, and over 20,000 fans are expected at Al Bayt. 

What is Croatia and Morocco’s results history?

Croatia and Morocco have only played each other twice, the first of which the Europeans won on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the Hassan II Trophy – a friendly tournament organised by the North Africans.

Their second meeting was in the group stage of this World Cup, where the sides drew 0-0.

What is Croatia’s World Cup record?

Croatia have qualified for all but one of the World Cup tournaments held since their independence – South Africa 2010 – and their appearances are bookended by their standout finishes: third place at France 1998, which made them the highest-finishing debutants since Eusebio’s Portugal in 1966, and runners-up at Russia 2018. 

Modric was awarded the Golden Ball for best overall player of the tournament, with his performance in Russia contributing to his Ballon d’Or win later that year. 

Eight of Croatia’s last 10 knockout games at major tournaments have gone to extra-time, with the 4-2 loss to France in the World Cup final and the 3-0 loss to Argentina the only exceptions.

What is Morocco’s World Cup record?

The African side have qualified for the World Cup on six occasions but had never made it past the Round of 16 until this tournament.