Croatia VS Morocco FIFA LIVE Football Score 17/12/2022
Croatia will play Morocco in the World Cup third place play-off. Croatia were beaten by a Lionel Messi-led Argentina in their semi-final, while Morocco lost 2-0 to France in the other semi-final. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
A World Cup 2022 bronze medal is on the line between Croatia and Morocco in Saturday’s third-placed playoff at the Khalifa International Stadium, and neither side should turn their noses up to a podium finish on the grandest stage. Zlatko Dalic’s side were comfortably seen off 3-0 by Argentina in their semi-final, while the Atlas Lions fought valiantly against France but were put to the sword by two goals to nil. Very few attackers have come face to face with the masked warrior that is Josko Gvardiol and got the better of the RB Leipzig youngster, but even one of the most in-demand defenders in Europe was no match for a 35-year-old Lionel Messi.
Prior to his downright humiliation of a man 15 years his junior, Messi crashed home the opening goal of Argentina’s semi-final with Croatia from the penalty spot before Julian Alvarez’s solo run brought La Albiceleste their second, albeit with some slices of good fortune after a couple of ricochets. There was nothing fortunate about Argentina’s third, as Messi rolled back the years on the right-hand side before picking out Alvarez to tap home Argentina’s third and deny Croatia a second successive appearance at a World Cup final – against 2018 foes France, no less.
Dalic’s side remarkably reached the 2018 final and the semi-finals of the 2022 edition without winning a knockout game in normal time, and they are not complete novices in bronze medal matches, having beaten the Netherlands 2-1 in the 1998 third-placed playoff during their inaugural World Cup campaign.
For a side who have consistently proven their prowess in extra time periods and penalty shootouts, Croatia will not be relieved to hear that the third-placed playoff has never been decided on spot kicks, and the uninhibited Morocco fanbase will no doubt continue to bang their drums to the maximum for one last ride. Had it not been for a lack of killer instinct in the final third, Morocco – the first-ever African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final – could have cemented themselves into even greater footballing folklore by becoming the first team from the continent to make it all the way to the final.
Walid Regragui’s side certainly gave France a scare or two in Wednesday’s semi-final, but Theo Hernandez’s acrobatic effort and Randal Kolo Muani’s tap-in 44 seconds after coming onto the pitch ended the Atlas Lions’ dreams of Qatar supremacy. The Africans’ efforts were not helped by the early withdrawals of injured trio Noussair Mazraoui, Romain Saiss and Nayef Aguerd, but Morocco’s current crop will no doubt return to their homeland as national heroes and could yet be wearing the bronze medals around their necks on the flight back.
Regragui’s side had not conceded to an opposing player in Qatar before Hernandez breached their backline with only five minutes on the clock on Wednesday, but they could still become the first nation since Spain’s triumphant team of 2010 to keep as many as five clean sheets at a single World Cup.
Croatia and Morocco are renewing hostilities just a few weeks on from their goalless draw in Group F, where the Checkered Ones were restricted to just five attempts against Regragui’s backline, and a similarly steadfast defensive showing could set the Africans on their way to a groundbreaking World Cup honour.