Morocco faces 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia on Wednesday morning in the opening match of Group F.
The Atlas Lions bowed out at the group stage four-and-a-half years ago, collecting just one point. However, they plowed through African qualifying impressively and have ambitions of matching the historic 1986 team which reached the round of 16.
Croatia didn’t even exist in its modern guise when Morocco topped a group containing England, Poland, and Portugal in Mexico. They have since claimed bronze and silver on the global stage and arrived in Qatar in good form.
Morocco vs. Croatia match facts:
Date: Wednesday, November 23
Kickoff Time: 5:00 am ET / 10:00 am GMT / 9:00 am AEST
Location: Al Bayt Stadium
Morocco Team News
The luckless Amine Harit sprained his cruciate ligament in Marseille’s final league match before the international hiatus. Ironically, the Monaco player that committed the foul, Axel Disasi, was a late addition to France’s World Cup squad after an injury opened an extra slot in Didier Deschamps’ squad.
Burnley’s Anass Zaroury has replaced Harit in Morocco’s setup.
Selim Amallah hasn’t been featured for Standard Liege since September but was still called up by Walid Regragui. The Barcelona loanee Ez Abde has also been nursing a muscular complaint which leaves his involvement in the opener uncertain.
Morocco predicted lineup vs Croatia
Morocco Starting 11 (4-3-3): Bounou; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Mazraoui; Amallah, Amrabat, Ounahi; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.
Bench: Mohamedi, Tagnaouti, El Yamiq, Dari, Benoun, Attiyat Allah, Zaroury, Chair, Aboukhlal, El Khannous, Jabrane, Hamdallah, Sabiri, Abde, Cheddira.
Croatia Team News
Croatia emerged unscathed from their final pre-World Cup friendly with Saudi Arabia. Marko Livaja and Kristijan Jakic were the only members of the 26-man squad that didn’t feature in Riyadh – though neither are thought to be injury doubts.
Croatia Starting 11 (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic.
Bench: Grbic, Ivusic, Stanisic, Barisic, Erlic, Lovren, Vida, Majer, Pasalic, Sucic, Jakic, Livaja, Petkovic, Budimir, Orsic.
Match Result Prediction: Croatia to win.
Croatia looks to kick off its campaign for the 2022 World Cup as a highly motivated outfit. We are tipping The Checkered Ones who will be captained by Luka Modric, to edge out Morocco’s Atlas Lions in this Group F clash. While both teams have a similar record of 4W and 1D in their last five matches, Croatia’s performance in the last World Cup and even in recent times have put them among the World Football elites. They are back to prove their worth and another World Cup opener against an African side means a lot is at stake.
Total Goals Prediction: Over 2.5 goals
While a win for Zlatko Dalic’s men is likely in the offing, the Checkered Ones will not have it easy against Morocco. Morocco’s Atlas Lions are the second-best African team according to the latest global rankings by FIFA and 22nd overall. They have four consecutive clean sheets while Croatia had three clean sheets from their last four games. While these teams haven’t met before, they are both in some excellent scoring form, so we expect goals on both ends and at least 3 goals at full-time.
Correct Score Prediction: 2-1 to Croatia
Another prediction for the Match result prediction Morocco vs Croatia is a 2-1 win for Croatia. World Cup openers tend to be a do-or-die affair for participants as no team would want to kick off the campaign with disappointment. It gets tougher when top-rated teams like Morocco and Croatia clash. Morocco’s recent games were against Paraguay and Chile, matches that the Atlas Lions drew 0-0 and won 2-0 respectively. The impressive results against the South American teams and now a fixture against the Croats that beat Austria 3-1 on the road and thrashed Denmark 1-0 at home means this won’t be an easy game for either side. We predict a narrow 2-1 win for Croatia.
Morocco vs Croatia Score Prediction
While Morocco’s strength resides on the flanks – chiefly their glitzy fullback pairing of PSG’s Achraf Hakimi and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui – Croatia’s midfield is the envy of many.
However, Luka Modric and co are up against a Morocco side not to be underestimated. Regragui was only appointed in August but has reintegrated key figures, such as Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, that had been shunned by his predecessor Vahid Halilhodzic.
In a contest that could prove to be more evenly balanced than their recent World Cup records suggest, Morocco and Croatia may share the spoils in this Group F opener.
Prediction: Croatia to win the match.