Friday, June 9, 2023

Morocco, Croatia look to close World Cup with playoff wins

  • Who: Croatia vs Morocco
  • Where: Khalifa International Stadium
  • When: December 17, 6 PM (3:00 PM GMT)
  • FIFA Ranking: Croatia (12), Morocco (22)
  • face to face: Played twice, Croatia won once, drew one
  • Last five matches:
    • Croatia: LWWDW
    • Morocco: LWWWW

It’s the end of the road for Croatia and Morocco in this World Cup. Whatever the result, both sides will be going home without a trophy.

But as this World Cup – which has brought so many shockers, created so much drama and seen so many dreams come true – draws to a close, these two teams have a unique opportunity to sing their swan songs. : The Qatar to say goodbye holds its head high and reflects on what has been done and what could be.

It seems like a lifetime since their last meeting, a nervy 0-0 draw in their opening Group F game just three weeks ago. What the match lacked in goals, it made up for in intensity, as both teams fought for dominance. But we are unlikely to see the same nerves on Saturday, with neither Croatia nor Morocco having anything to lose now.

For Croatia, midfield general Luka Modric is likely to leave. The 37-year-old captain has played a key role in Croatia’s resurgence as a footballing power over the past 15 years. He was part of the squads for the 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 European Championships, and appeared at the 2006, 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Croatian midfielder Luka Modric [OZAN KOSE / AFP]

it’s a phrase that’s used a lot but it Will An era will end when Modric retires from international football.

For Morocco, it is a moment to receive praise and thanks from a world that took a few weeks to dare to believe in the impossible – and for the team to show us once again what they can do in the next international cycle. are capable of.

The Atlas Lions may be considered underdogs by many, but you don’t make it to the semi-finals of the World Cup just by luck. He earned his success through guile, hard work and talent. His story, his unlikely tale of winning against the odds – over and over again – is why we all love this sport.

David Weber, a researcher on the cultural and political economy of football at Solent University, told Al Jazeera: “Having completed the first World Cup hat-trick for Africa, history begins once again for the men of Morocco and Walid Regargui “

“Perhaps Morocco’s performance at this World Cup will be enough to persuade FIFA representatives to award the tournament to Morocco after several unsuccessful bids in the past.

“Regardless of Saturday’s result, Morocco will bring noise and passion to the entire tournament and, in doing so, celebrate a team that has given the nation and the North African region the most memorable month of its rich football history.”

Achraf Hakimi of Morocco [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Morocco may have been the story of this World Cup but Croatia deserve no less. This game is about pride. To paraphrase James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter, “when it’s time to fall, it counts”.

Croatia punches above its weight like no other European football power does. It is a country of less than four million people. They were only recognized by FIFA in 1992 and even then only six years later their first World Cup campaign ended with a third-place finish.

Weber says Modric now has the chance to leave the international stage with the final flourish of his incredible career.

“This World Cup is about the ‘last dance’ for many of Modric’s contemporaries,” he said.

“And while all eyes will be on Messi on Sunday evening to see if he can finally lead Argentina to World Cup glory, Saturday’s match against Morocco will see Croatia’s semi-final defeat to their No. 10 Lets bow out with victory instead of pain.” ,

Nobody wants to play this game. But now they are here, the dreamers from Morocco and the fighters from Croatia will give it their all.

History is yet to be made and only immortality is at stake.

Times of National
Times of National
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