Morocco vs Croatia Prediction
23rd November 2022
13:00 Qatar Time/10:00 GMT
Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Current Form (Last Five Matches):
Morocco vs Croatia Prediction Match Overview
In the group F opener, 22nd-ranked Morocco, playing in their second consecutive World Cup meet the 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.
The Moroccans come into the match in good form, having only lost once in their previous 10 outings, including a run of four matches without conceding a goal against Jamaica, Chile, Paraguay and Georgia. Croatia are riding high coming into the tournament following an impressive UEFA Nations League campaign which saw them top a tough group containing World Champions France, Denmark and Austria. Currently on a five-game winning streak, the Croatians were victorious on French soil and twice defeated a talented Danish team.
Injuries and Suspensions
Will not play: Abde, Tissoudali (Morocco)
Might not play: Harit (Morocco); Vida (Croatia)
Morocco vs Croatia Prediction Analysis
We expect that Morocco will be keen to ensure that Croatia won’t overwhelm them in the middle of the park with the considerable talent they have at their disposal, so Morocco will almost certainly play with what will effectively be a 5 man midfield with the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal perhaps playing deeper roles than they are accustomed to. It’s likely that Morocco’s best avenues of attack lie down the flanks, as they possess strong fullbacks and wide men, with Noussair Mazraoui and Boufal on the left-hand side complementing a formidable Achraf Hakimi and Ziyech partnership on the right flank. Youssef En-Nesyri is likely to lead the line for the Moroccans with a blend of superb technique and physicality, but he comes into the tournament in relatively poor form for struggling La Liga side Sevilla.
Though the Moroccans will prioritise shutting down Croatia’s World-class midfield players, they will look to get on the ball and distribute quickly to the flanks and central to this endeavour will be the playmaking efforts of Sofyan Amrabat. If Morocco can gain a foothold in central midfield and successfully spread the play then Croatia could be in for a tough match.
The Croatians, however, will be confident of winning the midfield battle with their customary blend of technical quality and steel. A central midfield three of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic is as good as any other in the tournament, and Morocco may find it difficult to consistently find their wide outlets under considerable pressure and they will probably tire as the game goes on under the constant pressure of ceding possession to the Croatians.
Ball retention would appear to be the priority for the Croatians here, as they don’t want to risk Morocco distributing to their dangerous wide men with any kind of regularity. Croatia have versatile, creative attackers in the form of Ivan Perisic, Mario Pasalic and Andrej Kramaric, but perhaps lack an out-and-out goalscorer and therefore they’re expected to be patient and look to create clear-cut chances as opposed to the half chances that many of the world’s most clinical strikers will take on. As a result, we’re expecting something of a game of attrition caused by Croatia’s reluctance to ‘throw the kitchen sink’ at the Moroccans due to the impressive threat they pose on the break, with Croatia looking to retain the ball wherever possible with the intention of creating numerical advantages in the final third where it’s safe to do so.
Morocco Key Players
Hakimi is widely considered to be one of the World’s best fullbacks and his ability to play at a high level in both defence and attack will be crucial to Morocco’s efforts to keep it tight whilst simultaneously carrying a threat themselves. When it comes to attacking, often Hakimi doesn’t have a fixed position – while he is capable of reaching the byline to deliver enticing cutbacks, he will often drift in-field to pop up in attacking midfield to use his attacking prowess to its full effect.
Despite his well-publicised travails with the national team which has resulted in exclusion and subsequent recent inclusion, Ziyech possesses the talent and the characteristics to hurt any opposition, although his career has somewhat stalled at Chelsea. When in form, the talented wide man operates as more of a wide playmaker than an out-and-out winger and therefore complements Morocco’s flying fullbacks perfectly.
Croatia Key Players
Perhaps there’s nothing that hasn’t already been written about Luka Modric, but yet again he will be vital to Croatia’s efforts to control the midfield with his effortless passing, superb technique and excellent reading of the game. It doesn’t really matter if the Moroccans look to mark him out of the game because he is still, at the age of 37, superb at finding a yard or two of space and doesn’t require more than that to make an impact, and is adept at carrying the ball out of trouble if required.
Given how talented Morocco’s fullbacks are, Croatia will be relying upon Brozovic’s combative ability and ability to cover an enormous amount of ground to help out Croatia’s fullbacks and also to help Croatia win the battle in midfield. While in possession, Brozovic is exceptionally capable for a player who is being used here in a primarily defensive capacity, and could perhaps in some other teams function as a more creative outlet in his own right.
Morocco vs Croatia Prediction
Croatia will look to get on the ball and play a cautious, possession-based game due to the considerable threat that Morocco will surely pose on the break. As Croatia do not possess a prolific goalscorer, we anticipate a game of attrition that will eventually result in a Croatian breakthrough. While it’s possible that Morocco can hurt the Croatians, particularly from the flanks, we anticipate that Croatia will come through their first test fairly comfortably, but via a narrow scoreline.