Croatia vs Morocco possible starting lineups for the third place game

Despite the Moroccan fairytale taking a stumble in the final chapter as heavyweights France dealt two killer blows at the Al Bayt Stadium, the almost unbelievable achievement still has a few more pages to be written. The African nation will play in their final match of the World Cup, game number 63 of 64, against 2018 finalists Croatia, to decide the 3rd and 4th place ranking of the teams that couldn’t quite make it past the semi-final stage.

Croatia themselves lost in a thrilling game against Argentina, in a match that saw a breathtaking moment of football from the best player in the world: Messi outpaced Gvardiol, a defender 15 years younger than him, before twisting his bones and evaporating his soul, sentencing the European side to a 3-0 loss. It all sounds quite depressing, talking about two teams that have come off the back of elimination from football’s most highly-regarded tournament, but what these two nations have done is simply extraordinary: Croatia and Morocco’s populations combined would perhaps only just reach that of Argentina’s and still be almost half that of France’s.

Both finalists also have incredibly strong football pedigrees compared to the others, with Morocco and Croatia writing theirs now while France and Argentina both had golden periods in the past century.

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Morocco thank their fans for the incredible support after the loss to France in the World Cup semi-final.Matthias HangstGetty Images

Croatia vs Morocco: team news

Croatia come into the game finally tired, perhaps for the first time since 2018, and with Marcelo Brozovic a major doubt. The Inter midfielder was substituted off in the second half against Argentina due to injury and is not likely to make the deadline for the game against Morocco.

Gvardiol is also a doubt, not because of an injury to his soul sustained in that moment against Messi, but because of a foot injury that saw him need injections to play in the semi-final.

In terms of Morocco, well, it remains to be seen if any of the trio of Saiss, Aguerd and Mazraoui make the cut, as all three came off against France due to injuries that they were carrying. Saiss was beaten for pace by Olivier Giroud in the semi-final, with the French striker doing his best Mbappé impression, burning away from the defender before hitting the post. That was a sign for Saiss that his injury had turned him from potential hero to potential liability, as you might expect when you make a 35-year-old striker look like a week-old gazelle.

Morocco, as a result of the injuries, went with a back 5 against the French, meaning that covering space in the midfield region became more difficult. I expect that Walid Regragui will revert to his tried and tested 4-1-4-1 for the game in an attempt to nullify Croatia’s midfield.

Croatia vs Morocco: potential starting XIs:

Croatia: Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Sutalo, Sosa; Modric, Jakic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, PerisicMorocco:Bono; Hakimi, El-Yamiq, Dari, Attiyat-Allah; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal

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