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Could Morocco shock Croatia in Group F opener?

November 22nd 2022, 7:14:49 pm

Morocco kickoff their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a difficult game against Croatia

Morocco v Croatia

Morocco will kick off their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign against 2018 finalists, Croatia at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday.

The Atlas Lions will have the extra burden of trying to be the first African team to win a game or even score a goal at the 2022 FIFA World Cup after the failures of Senegal and Tunisia.

AFP/AFP

But in their way stands Croatia, the ultimate dark horses of the last World Cup who are aiming to repeat the achievement of 2018 and probably even go a step further.

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The good news for Morocco is, Croatia are not as good as they were four years ago as their golden generation appears to be succumbing to age.

The Moroccans have a good squad, led by head coach Walid Regragui and would be buoyed by the return of talented attacker, Hakim Ziyech, a potential upset could be on the cards here.

The meeting in Qatar will be the first ever between these two countries whose paths have never crossed internationally before now.

Both teams head into the World Cup in good form though with Morocco currently on a seven-game unbeaten run with five wins and two draws while Croatia have not lost in six games and have won their previous five matches.

MOROCCO

HAKIM ZIYECH

Hakim Ziyech has not been in great form, finding minutes hard to come by at his club, Chelsea but he still remains a talented player nonetheless.

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His appearance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup would be his first competitive game for Morocco since March 2021 as he controversially retired from international duty due to disagreements with the former coach.

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Ziyech would feel like he has a lot to prove on his return to international duty and will be playing the game against Croatia with a chip on his shoulder.

ACHRAF HAKIMI

Achraf Hakimi has established himself as one of the best right fullbacks/wingbacks in world football at just 24 years old.

The PSG star is the highest-profile player in the Moroccan team and has been a key player for his country with eight goals in 54 appearances from defensive positions.

CROATIA

LUKA MODRIC

Former world footballer of the year, Luka Modric needs no introduction, his reputation precedes him and Morocco have the herculean task of trying to stop him.

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Although now 37 years old, Modric is still one of the best midfielders in the world and a regular for Real Madrid.

He would be looking to build on his last World Cup performance where he was the best player in the tournament.

LOVRO MAJER

Lovro Majer is not the highest-profile player in that star-studded Croatian midfield but the 24-year-old represents the future and the present for the Croats.

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The Rennes attacking midfielder could be the creative link for Croatia in this game and he also has a keen eye for goal having scored three goals in 11 previous games for his country.

Walid Regragui is a Moroccan football cult hero having enjoyed a long playing career, the 47-year-old has been coaching in the local league for most of his coaching career and now gets his chance with the senior national team.

AFP/AFP

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic is a cult hero in Croatia for his unprecedented achievement in 2018, taking the team to the final but he now faces the near-impossible task of repeating or even surpassing that feat.

The unspoken rule of the FIFA World Cup is that a great tournament is almost always followed by a terrible one which sets the pace for an upset in this game.

Morocco 2-1 Croatia

Tunde Young
Tunde is an experienced sports writer/journalist dedicated to promoting Nigerian excellence in sports

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