Morocco take on Croatia in the first clash of the F group on Wednesday. The World Cup 2022 has started off with goals everywhere and this game has the potential to be an exciting one for the neutrals. Both Morocco and Croatia have plenty of interesting names in their squads with PSG’s Archaf Hakimi and Madrid’s Luka Modric at the helm of each.
The two sides only met once before and it was in a friendly match in 1996. The match ended in a 2-2 draw but Croatia got the better of Morocco in a penalty shootout (6-7).
Morocco form (all competitions): W D W W W.
Croatia form (all competitions): W W W W W.
When & Where?
DATE: November 23, 2022.
TIME: 11:00 AM CET.
VENUE: Al Bayt Stadium; Al Khor, Qatar.
The Barcelona youngster Ez Abde has been nursing an injury problem (ruptured fibers) which leaves questions about his involvement in the game.
Croatia managed to go without and new injury worries in their last pre World Cup friendly. Marko Livaja and Kristijan Jakic were the only members of the 26-man squad that didn’t feature in that game but both should be fine for the Morocco game.
Both teams are likely to go with a 4-3-3 with a base player sitting in front of the defence as a #6. In Morocco’s case that will most likely be Amrabat while Brozovic will act as the deepest midfielder on the other side. Expect a lot of shuffling in Croatia’s midfield dependant on the game state.
This Croatia midfield has been together for a long time and if you let them have too much time on the ball, you will lose control of the game quickly.
Croatia must cut out Ziyech and Boufal on the wings as the two provide tricky dribbling options to guard against, but not only that, they’re also accompanied by two top of the line fullbacks in Mazraoui and Hakimi.
That’s not to say Croatia don’t have firepower in their Arsenal on the flanks though, Juranovic and Barisic have impressive attacking numbers for their respective clubs and love to maraud down the wings when given the time and space. Vlasic is likely to occupy that right-wing spot while Perisic on the left is almost as sure as anything on the teamsheet.
En-Nesyri and Kramaric haven’t been very prolific for their clubs this season with 2 and 3 goals in all competitions respectively, but they’ll have to find their scoring touch soon if their sides want to progress.
Both Dalic and Regragui appreciate possession playing out of the back football so this game is likely to be of high technical calibre with either side looking to pounce on mistakes.
Premier League Players in the Spotlight
Mateo Kovacic, Ivan Perisic, Nayef Aguerd and Hakim Ziyech are the Premier League representatives in this game.
Kovacic has only started 5 games in the league this season and he could use a good run at the WC to give Potter something to think about when he comes back.
Perisic was the go to option for Conte at left wing-back any time the Croatian was fit and healthy this season. Some are worried about how his lack of goals for Tottenham (0 this season) will impact him coming into the squad which needs him to score as the winger. His assist ratio has been very decent though (4 in the league).
Aguerd suffered a bad injury in pre-season after getting his dream Premier League move to West Ham. The centre-back worked hard on his recovery and managed to make it just in time for the World Cup. His official debut for the club took a little while but he looked great versus Silkeborg. He came off in the 76th minute with the highest number of passes completed out of anyone on the pitch.
Ziyech has been having a tough time in London with his future uncertain but his international career looks like it’s back on track after it seemed dead in the water after some unresolved issues with the previous national team coach. He scored this beauty just a few days ago…
HAAAAAKIM ZIYEEEEECH LE BUT DE L’ANNÉE BABABABABA💥💥💥 pic.twitter.com/EFLGA636Kj
— HZ Actu 🧙🏼♂️ (@Ziyech_Actu) November 17, 2022
Croatia Predicted Starting 11 (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Barisic; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic.
Morocco Predicted Starting 11 (4-3-3): Bounou; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Mazraoui; Amallah, Amrabat, Ounahi; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.