World Cup 2018 runners-up Croatia made a irritating begin to their Group F marketing campaign as a resolute Morocco secured a 0-0 attract Al Khor.
It was the third goalless draw at this winter’s event within the area of 24 hours, and probabilities have been at a premium with each defences on prime. Indeed, three of the final 4 video games on the World Cup have completed 0-0, extra goalless attracts than there have been within the earlier 73 matches within the competitors mixed.
There have been simply two makes an attempt on the right track from each groups in a match performed in searing desert warmth regardless of the most effective efforts of the air-conditioned Al Bayt Stadium, 50km north of Doha.
Morocco have proved to be probably the most troublesome sides to beat in world soccer of late, and have now misplaced simply two of their final 41 video games throughout a 3-yr spell, whereas Croatia prolonged their very own unbeaten run to seven video games in a sport that won’t stay lengthy within the reminiscence.
Morocco: Bono (7), Hakimi (8), Saiss (7), Aguerd (7), Mazraoui (5), Ounahi (5), Amrabat (7), Ziyech (6), Amallah (5), Boufal (5), En-Nesyri (5).
Subs: Sabiri (n/a), Ezzalzouli (5), Attiyat Allah (6), Hamdallah (n/a).
Croatia: Livakovic (7), Juranovic (7), Lovren (8), Gvardiol (7), Sosa (7), Modric (6), Brozovic (7), Kovacic (5), Vlasic (5), Kramaric (5), Perisic (6).
Subs: Majer (n/a), Livaja (6), Pasalic (6).
Player of the match: Achraf Hakimi.
How Croatia failed to interrupt down Morocco
Croatia, crushed by France within the closing 4 years in the past, have been making their sixth World Cup look, having both been eradicated within the group levels or not less than reached the semi-finals. But they’d fail to attain for the primary time in 12 World Cup matches, since what was their solely different goalless draw within the competitors towards Japan in 2006.
Zlatko Dalic’s contract is up after this event, however he watched his aspect produce a flat show within the opening interval as Morocco regarded the extra cohesive unit. Youssef En-Nesyri should have met Hakim Ziyech’s cross from the appropriate however the striker did not make contact with the inviting cross.
Big moments within the sport…
- 17 min: Ivan Perisic flashes a shot from distance that goes simply over the bar.
- 18 min: Youssef En-Nesyri actually should have met Hakim Ziyech’s cross however he misses his header utterly.
- 45 min: Bono denies Nikola Vlasic from level clean vary within the sport’s finest probability.
- 45 min +1: Luka Modric fires a shot over the crossbar from the sting of the field.
- 52 min: Sofiane Boufal’s shot is blocked by Dejan Lovren, who survives appeals for handball.
The solely earlier assembly between these two nations was within the Hassan II Trophy in December 1996, performed in Casablanca, however right here was a really totally different backdrop. The first half solely actually sprung into life in stoppage time as Croatia went shut on two events.
First, Ivan Perisic expertly discovered full-again Borna Sosa on the overlap down the left and his low cross was swept on the right track by Nikola Vlasic however Sevilla goalkeeper Bono made a positive cease.
At 45 minutes and 12 seconds, Vlasic’s saved try for Croatia was the most recent first shot on the right track in a match on the 2022 World Cup to this point. And with just about the final kick of the half, Luka Modric latched onto a unfastened ball following Perisic’s blocked shot however his first-time effort fizzed over the bar.
Croatia, who had gained their two earlier World Cup video games towards African opposition by an combination of 6-0 – towards Cameroon and Nigeria – survived a penalty attraction moments after the restart as Sofiane Boufal’s shot was blocked by Dejan Lovren.
- Croatia midfielders Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic have been each begin their World Cup Group F opener at Al Bayt Stadium after overcoming harm points.
- Kovacic was obtainable for the 2018 runners-up regardless of fighting a knee harm not too long ago, whereas Brozovic performed 70 minutes of their closing heat-up sport, allaying fears about his involvement on the event.
- Morocco defender Nayef Aguerd began regardless of making just one league look this season for his membership West Ham.
Replays confirmed Lovren was simply exterior the field when the ball struck his arm, sparing the previous Liverpool centre-again a VAR inquest.
Just after the hour mark, Achraf Hakimi struck a venomous free-kick that Dominik Livakovic watched carefully to punch clear.
Morocco continued to probe searching for a primary World Cup victory since beating Scotland in 1998, nevertheless it was Croatia – with Modric’s affect rising – who more and more regarded the extra more likely to discover a breakthrough that will by no means come.
Croatia and Modric’s affect present indicators of regressing
Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:
“Croatia are perennially slow starters, having lost their opening game in three of their five World Cup appearances, with the exceptions being 1998 and 2018, when they reached the final.
“But towards Morocco on Wednesday, it felt as if their emphasis was positioned on taking part in to not lose.
“Dalic’s side are 12th in the FIFA rankings, 10 places above Morocco, but they cancelled each other out in this opening Group F contest. The Atlas Lions have only lost twice since the beginning on 2021 – once on penalties to Egypt in the African Cup of Nations – and it is clear to see why they are so hard to beat on this evidence.
“Croatia’s World Cup qualification was smooth and they topped their Nations League group ahead of France but having failed to score past Morocco, the bookmakers will feel vindicated in having them as outsiders in Qatar.
“Luka Modric, the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner, stated earlier than kick-off it was essential to respect Morocco, describing their gamers as phenomenal and extremely motivated – but he struggled to impose himself in a Croatia aspect that seems to be regressing.
“Their best moments predictably hinged on Modric, who was given the freedom of the park, floating effortlessly from back to front, with football’s traditional midfield roles seemingly not applying to Croatia’s captain. He dropped deeper and deeper but Croatia lacked spark.
“At 37, Modric stays a maestro within the Real Madrid midfield. He pledged he would bow out of the sport if Croatia win the World Cup, however there was little indication from this stalemate to recommend that eventuality is probably going.”
Premier League watch: Hakim Ziyech
Walid Regragui changed Vahid Halilhodzic as Morocco head coach solely three months in the past and certainly one of his first missions was to recall Ziyech to the nationwide aspect. There have been uncommon glimpses of high quality, nonetheless, from the Chelsea midfielder earlier than he light.
Chelsea’s Ziyech was concerned in 50 per cent of Morocco’s eight makes an attempt towards Croatia, having two pictures and creating two probabilities for his group-mates.
Opta stats – Goals nonetheless eluding Morocco
- Morocco have failed to attain in 53% of their World Cup matches (9/17), the joint-highest share of any nation to have performed in additional than 10 video games within the competitors.
- As properly as changing into Croatia’s oldest ever participant to function within the World Cup (37y 75d), Luka Modric grew to become the primary participant to look in each the European Championship and World Cup throughout three totally different a long time.
- At 20 years and 304 days, Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol grew to become the youngest participant on report (since 1966) to finish not less than 100 passes in a single World Cup match (103).
What does the consequence imply?
Group F additionally comprises a Belgium aspect ranked second on the planet and a Canada group taking part in of their first World Cup since 1986. Those two nations face one another afterward Wednesday within the different sport on matchday one.
Croatia face Canada on Sunday November 27; kick-off 4pm. Victory may safe their progress to the spherical of 16.
Morocco tackle Belgium earlier on the identical day at 1pm figuring out they too may take an enormous step in the direction of qualification with three factors.