Croatia and Morocco meet again after facing each other in the group round, where perhaps they would not have thought of meeting again. Reaching the semi-final, which they then lost, can in fact be considered a magnificent result for the North African team and a very good one for the European one, despite the fact that, for Dalic’s team, it is a step back from second place in the 2018 World Cup. Croatia was certainly starting as an excellent team, but there were others who were more interested in fighting for this third place, which, in general, is seen as a burden rather than an opportunity. However, re-reading the story of this match, which in any case remains “unusual,” one notices how rarely super challenges between two big national teams have occurred: this time, too, it will be like this, and for Croatia, it will be an encore, given the match played and won against the Netherlands in the 1998 World Cup in France.
Surprisingly, the unknowns will be the stimuli that the players will experience and the technical decisions that the coaches will make. Everyone promised their commitment and dedication to this meeting. It is probable, if not certain, that there will be new additions (Dalic made it quite clear by saying that he wants fresh, healthy, and ready players), and therefore we should notice something new, perhaps very different from the 0-0 in November that, after all, was a fairly faithful mirror of what the two teams would later show. Especially in the case of Morocco, which, as we all know, built its World Cup fortunes on defense; however, the same can be said for Croatia, which, along with Belgium, Japan, and, most importantly, Brazil, almost always managed to close the gate defended by Livakovic in the ninety minutes.
We will therefore see if the two teams play a more open and offensive match than usual. Both have the possibility. In fact, Morocco, once down in the first half against France, created quite a few chances to equalize in the second, showing a role that until then had not been known to the public. On the other hand, Croatia, perhaps a little limited by the two super matches against Brazil and Argentina, was still seen as more defensive than offensive, despite having players and technical possibilities to assert themselves in the opposing half.
Zlatko Dali’s Croatia have scored a total of six goals throughout their last six matches, which works out to an average of one goal per game.
In light of the fact that the third-placed playoff has never been decided by penalties kicks, Croatia probably won’t find this data to be very comforting. After all, Croatia is a team that has repeatedly shown its superiority in extra time and penalty shootouts.
In the most recent games, there has been a pretty continuous trend of at least one team going scoreless while Morocco is participating in the competition. When looking at the results of their most recent six games, we can see that it has happened five times. During those contests, Morocco have scored a total of 5 goals while their opponents have only managed 3 between them.
Croatia vs Morocco Predicted XI
Croatia Predicted XI: Livakovic; Stanisic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Jakic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic.
Morocco Predicted XI: Bono; Hakimi, El-Yamiq, Dari, Attiyat-Allah; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.
When all is considered, Morocco will absolutely need to perform at a high level in order to break through the defense of this Croatian team, which should have a slight advantage.
Because of this, we think that Croatia will win a close game with a score of 1-0 after the full 90 minutes.