World Cup 2022: Morocco vs Croatia match preview

This is Croatia’s first World Cup match since losing the final to France in 2018, while Morocco’s last WC win was in 1998.

Hakim Ziyech
Morocco's Hakim Ziyech in action [File: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

Who: Morocco v Croatia, Group F
Where: Al Bayt Stadium
When: Wednesday, November 23, 10am (07:00 GMT)
Head to head: Croatia 7-6 Morocco (penalties)

This is the first encounter between Morocco and Croatia at a World Cup.

The teams met once before in December 1996 in a friendly Hasan II Trophy tournament in Casablanca.

The game ended 7-6 in favour of the Croatians on penalties. It also saw three red cards handed out.

Ranked 22nd, Morocco, led by Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech, head into this competition on a five-match unbeaten streak. However, the last time the Atlas Lions won a World Cup match was in 1998, a 3-0 win over Scotland.

And in spite of this being their sixth appearance at a World Cup, Morocco last progressed beyond the group stages in 1986, where they were eventually beaten by Germany 1-0 in the round of 16.

The team is hoping to make its mark in Qatar, boosted by the return of Ziyech who announced his international retirement in February 2022 after falling out with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

For Croatia, this will be the first World Cup fixture since losing to France in the final four years ago.

The Checkered Ones crashed out of the Euro 2020 last-16 after losing to Spain 5-3, but have won 15 out of the last 16 games.

They will need to rely on Tottenham’s Ivan Perisic to give them a lot more in attack if they are to have a deep run. Veteran Luka Modric will take up his position in midfield with Mateo Kovacic.

Croatia won their two FIFA World Cup games against African opposition with an aggregate of 6-0 (4-0 against Cameroon in 2014 and 2-0 against Nigeria in 2018).

While Belgium sees itself as coming out on top of Group F, there is plenty of potential for Croatia and Morocco to make it to the next round.

Source: Al Jazeera