Croatia and Morocco want to return from Qatar with a prize

Croatia and Morocco want to return from Qatar with a prize

The ‘chess’ team will appeal to Modric’s character and leadership, while the Africans will seek to complete the feat with bronze


Croatia and Morocco face this Saturday (4:00 p.m.) for third place in the World Cup in Qatar to not return from the Asian country without a prize, after reaching some meritorious semifinals as two of the sensations of the World Cup, with the ‘Lions del Atlas’ making history in African football and the ‘chess’ team once again as the protagonist of a great tournament due to its combative nature.

Both teams were able to access a final that, in addition to being unprecedented, would have been historic, between two teams that did not start as favorites to go that far. The Croats came close to repeating the milestone, after four years ago playing with France in the World Cup in Russia, with a generation that has once again amaze in Qatar.

Much more mature, the players coached by Zlatko Dalic have once again given a lesson in resistance and resilience, with an amazing ability to not lose face in matches, no matter how superior the rival might be, a priori. In the round of 16, the Europeans faced an ‘affordable’ duel against Japan (1-1), however, the pass was complicated and they needed the uncertainty of penalties to seal their ticket to the quarterfinals, where the tough Brazilian bone awaited .

The big favorite ‘verdeamarela’ collided with a combative Croatian squad that resisted the onslaught of the offensive talent from Rio. That Balkan character prolonged the expected Brazilian success until extra time, when Neymar dressed as a momentary hero to make it 0-1. But the ‘Canarinha’ did not count on the insistence of the Croatian ‘hammer’, who took advantage of a mismatch in Tite’s system to tie and force the second consecutive round. The pressure weighed too much on the Brazilian ‘samba’ and Croata got into the top four teams in the tournament.

Very physically weighed down by previous efforts, the Croats received a harsh correction in the semifinals against Argentina (3-0) with an intractable Leo Messi. Luka Modric -he could be facing his last game in a World Cup-, the main architect of the European feat and leader at 37, said goodbye to his companions of the World Cup adventure with his head held high and the opportunity to sign a successful third place in Qatar, after its runner-up in 2018.


Opposite them will be a Moroccan team that will not sell their skin cheap, with much more to gain, since finishing their extraordinary tournament with a third place would be historic for African football. After advancing to the qualifiers as first in the group, ahead of Croatia, Belgium and Canada, he was hung with a favorite sign that has not weighed on him in his adventure in Qatar, even encouraging him to leave teams like Spain and Portugal behind.

Against Luis Enrique’s men, Morocco neutralized the Spanish model, more combinative than dangerous, forcing penalties and showing that they were serious. They reached the quarterfinals with only one goal against -an own goal- and continued to develop their particular work, and that time with the Portuguese as victims, they beat them (1-0) with grit, always faithful to their model.

In the semifinals against France, Morocco reinforced its tough and solid system, also forced by casualties, with five center-backs, but this weakened the core and they completed their ‘poorest’ match in that regard. The Gauls prevailed (2-0) and woke the ‘Lions of the Atlas’ from sleep, who will now be able to put the ‘brass pin’ on their feat.

The Moroccan coach, Walid Regragui, admitted in the preview that the match for third place is the “worst” that can be played, although he acknowledged that his players are still “hungry” to win “a medal.” The coach would have the virtually assured loss of his captain, Romain Saïss, while Noussair Mazraoui will be a doubt on the left side. In a match in which both teams could include changes, Croatia only has the unknown of the pivot Marcelo Brozovic.

Both teams were rivals in the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar, a duel that ended in a goalless draw, with a better taste for the Africans than for the Europeans, who expected something more. The Croatian team already knows what it’s like to win this ‘consolation final’, when in their debut in the tournament in France 1998 already as an independent team they beat the Netherlands (1-2) with goals from Prosinecki and Suker.



CROACIA: Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Barisic; Kovacic, Jakic, Modric; Perisic, Petkovic y Orsic.

MARRUECOS: Bono; Hakimi, El Yamiq, Benoun, Attiat-Allah; Amrabat, Amallah, Ounahi; Boufal, En-Nesyri and Abde.

–REFEREE: Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (CAT).

–ESTADIO: Khalifa International Stadium.

–TIME: 4:00 p.m./La 1, World Goal and Movistar+.