Who, out of Croatia and Morocco, will be consoled for their efforts in this World Cup, after coming so close to Sunday’s final? The outsiders fell to the well-established powers, but they still need to face off against each other for third place, in the hopes of ending their respective World Cup campaigns in a positive way. Belgium won the previous third-place match in 2018, beating England to pick up a bronze medal.
Croatia have just suffered a disappointing defeat against Argentina in the semi-final thanks to a penalty by Lionel Messi and two goals by Julian Alvarez, whereas Morocco fought well against France but lost 2-0 in the semi-final due to goals by Théo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani.
Croatia – Morocco: Two encounters in the same World Cup!
It was a similar case between Belgium and England in 2018; Croatia and Morocco will face off for the second time in this tournament. They parted on a nil-nil draw in the first match in Group F, which saw the Lions of Atlas impress by limiting Croatia to only 5 shots, its lowest ever in any World Cup match.
Face to Face – Croatia vs. Morocco: Third-ever encounter
Croatia and Morocco have only faced each other twice before, the last time during this World Cup. Croatia won their first encounter during the Hassan II Trophy, whereas they drew in the opening game of Group F almost a month ago. This third encounter could equalise Morocco’s international record.
Croatia – Morocco: Some changes are expected
Croatia will be looking to make as few changes as possible to its starting lineup. One change is expected to left-back, where Borna Sosa will replace Barisic who received a card in the last match. For the rest, Croatia will likely put out a 4-3-3 formation with the experienced Kovacic, Brozovic and Modric in the midfield and Petkovic as the centre-forward.
While Morocco used a 3-4-3 formation against France, this didn’t last long after the substitution of Romain Saiss, who let in a goal at the start of the match. The Lions of Atlas went back to their 4-3-3 formation, and seem to want to keep it. Doubts persist surrounding the participation of Nayef Aguerd, as well as Romain Saiss.
The keys to the match: Which team is more motivated?
Usually, the match for third place is a fairly dull affair, with both teams being disappointed not to have reached the final of the World Cup. However, in this case, this could be a positive final farewell to international football for Luka Modric, or another historic feat for Morocco, who, whether they win or lose, have already made history in this World Cup. However, Morocco will feel more positive after having succeeded in taking the match to France in the Semi-final, causing problems for the Blues and having plenty of possession and significant opportunities.
These are two defensively solid teams that will be facing off. The creative aspect of Croatia and Morocco will therefore be the key to the win. Even if Croatia’s midfield is powerful and experienced, Morocco’s offensive play was very promising against France – and should have allowed them to score at least one goal.
Other predictions worth a shot in this Croatia – Morocco match at 4 pm
We think that Morocco has the dynamic necessary to bring home the third-place play-off. However, the two teams will be very strong defensively with little goals on either side – this is why we think that there will be at least 2.5 goals scored. With that said, we think that Perisic could be capable of beating Croatia’s record for number of goals scored in a World Cup with a goal against Morocco, but there is a strong chance that the match will end in a draw.