02:00 PM IST: Welcome to the live blog of the FIFA World Cup 2022 group stage match between Morocco vs Croatia.
The Football carnival in Qatar has started. The first few matches have already indicated how the tournament will unfold. For teams to overcome the first hurdle, they need to start strong. Croatia and Morocco will battle for their first breakthrough on 23rd November. The teams have been playing really well lately, but the past does not matter when it comes to high-pressure World Cup games.
Croatia finished runners-up in the 2018 World Cup but this time around, they would be hoping to go all the way. They do have most of the players playing in top European giants but Morocco could be the biggest underdog of this edition. Morocco is filled with some other extraordinarily talented players like Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi who can really hit Croatia hard.
Morocco form (all comps): W-D-W-W-W
Croatia form (all comps): W-W-W-W-W
Players to Watch
As the best player in Croatia, Luka Modric will be at the forefront throughout the tournament. The Madrid midfielder has done it numerous times, but in his last World Cup, he should be firing at full strength. As many players now play for top European clubs, the pressure on him is less than at the 2018 World Cup. However, his magic in the midfield could make or break Croatia’s fate.
In the same way as Croatia, Hakim Zyiech, Morocco’s main midfielder, will be the focus of all attention. Although the Chelsea star has not been in great form at the Club level, the World Cup will be the perfect opportunity for him to prove his case. In midfield, he is likely to be the key to all of Morocco’s chances because he is brilliant at set pieces.
Injuries have plagued Morocco going into their first match of the tournament. Even though the main striker Youssef En-Nesyri is fit and ready, they will be without Ez Abde and Tarik Tissoudali. Amine Harit’s chances are also slim.
There is some relief in the Croatian dugout with Marcelo Brozovic back to full training and likely to be available for selection. Domagoj Vida may also be available following a scare in a friendly against Saudi Arabia.
Head to Head stats
Surprisingly both sides will be facing for the second time only in their history. Their first encounter took place way back in 1996 when Croatia won in penalties.
Played – 1
Morocco – 0
Drawn – 0
Croatia – 1