Croatia vs Morocco - World Cup third-place play-off: Team news, lineups & prediction

Zlatko Dalic's Croatia takes on Walid Regragui's Morocco
Zlatko Dalic's Croatia takes on Walid Regragui's Morocco / Richard Sellers | Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images

Croatia face Morocco in the one World Cup match no team wants to contest, meeting in the third-place play-off on Saturday afternoon.

The 2018 finalists could not return to the showpiece in Qatar, slumping to a 3-0 defeat against Argentina on Tuesday. Morocco showed plenty of fight but struggled to convert their pressure into chances, let alone goals against France.

Here's everything you need to know about the bout for the bronze medal.

Where are Croatia vs Morocco playing?

  • Location: Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
  • Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
  • Date: Saturday 17 December
  • Kick-off Time: 15:00 GMT / 10:00 ET / 07:00 PT

Croatia vs Morocco H2H Results (All Time)

  • Croatia: 1 Win
  • Morocco: 0 Wins
  • Draws: 1

Current Form (Last Five Games)

  • Croatia: WDWWL
  • Morocco: WWWWL

Croatia team news

Marcelo Brozovic was forced off at the start of the second half against Argentina with a twinge in his thigh muscle - an area which has sidelined the Inter midfielder for much of the Serie A campaign.

Dalic stressed: "We need fit players, we won’t put anyone whose even eyelashes hurt." Which suggests Brozovic may not be risked. Josko Gvardiol played the semi-final with painkilling injections in his foot, putting his involvement in doubt.

Croatia predicted lineup vs Morocco

Croatia Starting 11 (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Sutalo, Sosa; Majer, Modric, Kovacic; Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic.
Bench: Grbic, Ivusic, Erlic, Vida, Gvardiol, Barisic, Jakic, Sucic, Brozovic, Osric, Livaja, Petkovic, Budimir, Vlasic.

Morocco team news

Surely Romain Saiss' powers of recovering have been expended. Morocco's skipper limped towards the centre circle for the opening coin toss of the semi-final against France before giving in to a hamstring injury after 20 minutes. Nayef Aguerd pulled out just before kick-off with a thigh problem and Noussair Mazraoui couldn't make it to the second half after nursing an illness and a hip issue.

After losing to France, Walid Regragui lamented: "We had too many players at 60% or 70%." It will be intriguing to see how many members of the squad that pushed through the pain barrier will do so again on Saturday.

Morocco predicted lineup vs Croatia

Morocco Starting 11 (4-3-3): Bounou; Hakimi, Dari, El Yamiq, Attiyat Allah; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.
Bench: Munir, Tagnaouti, Benoun, Jabrane, Chair, El Khannouss, Sabiri, Abde, Zaroury, Aboukhlal, Hamdallah.

Croatia vs Morocco betting tips

Luka Modric
Luka Modric will likely play his last World Cup game / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

CROATIA TO CONCEDE FIRST & AVOID DEFEAT – Croatia have failed to open the scoring in any of their last 10 World Cup games (conceding first on eight occasions, two nil-nil’s), however they’ve only lost two of those matches (W2 D6).

MOROCCO TO FINISH 3rd – Morocco have lost just one of their last six World Cup games against European sides (semi-final defeat to France), progressing past Spain in the round of 16 (via penalties) and eliminating Portugal 1-0 at the quarterfinal stage (1-0) this year.

CROATIA OR MOROCCO TO WIN – None of the 19 previous third place play-off matches at the World Cup have gone to penalties, with only one being settled in extra time (France v Belgium in 1986).

Croatia or Morocco to win is currently 3/10*

DRAW & CROATIA TO WIN ON PENALTIES – Eight of Croatia’s last 10 knockout games at major tournaments (World Cup/EUROs) have gone to extra-time (5 all the way to penalties), while they have won all four of their World Cup penalty shootouts to date.

0-0 DRAW – Croatia and Morocco have failed to score in more games than any other side at the 2022 World Cup (3 each), with the two sides playing out a goalless draw on MD1. Morocco have kept eight clean sheets in their last 10 games in all competitions, while Croatia have never conceded a goal against an African side at the tournament (3 games).

UNDER 2.5 TOTAL MATCH GOALS – Seven of Morocco’s last nine World Cup games have seen two goals or fewer, while four of Croatia’s six games at the 2022 tournament have seen under 2.5 goals.

ANYTIME GOALSCORER – Ivan Perisic has scored six World Cup goals for Croatia, including one in the 2018 final against France – one more would make him their outright top scorer in the competition, surpassing Davor Suker.

ANYTIME GOALSCORER – Youssef En-Nesyri has scored two goals from just two shots on target at the 2022 World Cup, including the winner against Portugal in the quarter final.

Youssef En-Nesyri to score anytime is currently 11/4*

Insights courtesy of Opta. Head to The Analyst Stats Hub for live group stage standings, top scores, match metrics, team stats and much more!

*Odds correct at time of publication. 18+. Please gamble responsibly.

Croatia vs Morocco score prediction

Both nations will end the World Cup against the foe which kicked off their tournament. Back in the hazy days of November, the pair played out a goalless draw in Group F short on chances.

Regragui was thrilled with the composed, controlled display his side delivered while Croatia's camp confidently hinted that they could have triumphed had they taken more risks.

Dalic insisted: "The match is a big final for us, not a small final." Yet, it's an even bigger game for Morocco, who already made history by reaching the semi-final but could add a bronze hue to their entry in the record books.

In what Dalic described as "the hardest and worst game" of the tournament, both sides have shown the determination and dexterity to turn this contest into a spirited and skilful scrap. Croatia may have the edge over Morocco's depleted ranks but they will be pushed for that spot on the podium.

Prediction: Croatia 1-0 Morocco

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