Hello and welcome to Sportstar’s live coverage of the FIFA World Cup third place play-off between Croatia and Morocco, happening at the Khalifa International stadium.
2018 runners-up Croatia finishes third after a 2-1 win against Morocco. The Atlas Lions’ frontline was excellent but it is their defense that let them down with constant errors. Croatia meanwhile, capitalised on those mistakes and scored goals at the right time. Morocco came so close to scoring in the dying minutes of the added time but En Nesyri’s header went wide.
CLOSEE!!!!! Morocco got its one last chance at equalising as En Nesyri got a lofted ball inside the box. He tries to head it but the ball lands on top of the net!!!
Six added minutes
Hakimi runs into the final third on the right and whips out a lofted cross. The ball finds a couple of Moroccan players but goes out eventually. Morocco players surround the match official as they felt it was a handball but a quick VAR check said otherwise
WHAT A CHANCE!! Superb run from Kovacic as he gets the ball inside the box. He shoots but it goes just wide!
Amallah challenges for the ball with Pasalic and the referee awards a free kick for Croatia. Following a arguement, Amallah is booked
Petkovic leads the Croatian attack yet again. He gets the ball into the penalty box on the left and tries to cross it but Benoun puts in a timely slide tackle
WHAT A SAVE!!! Livakovic it is! En Nesyri gets the ball inside the box in close quarters and lets out a shot but Livakovic ducks to block it
Petkovic lets out a brilliant through ball as Gvardiol gets the ball inside the box before falling down. The referee decides to let the game continue and a Morocco counter begins.
Morocco is letting Croatia have the ball and that could prove dangerous. That is exactly what has happened here. Petkovic outside the box, lets one fly and it goes very close to the crossbar
Ounahi is booked for protesting against a free-kick
Yet another player is injured. Amallah replaces Yamiq as the latter suffered a hamstring injury
Livaja OUT, Pasalic IN; Majer OUT, Petkovic IN
Dari OUT, Benoun IN; Boufal OUT, Zaroury IN
Attack brews for Croatia on the left. Gvardiol puts a well thought backheel to find Majer who runs into the final third before putting a through ball towards Livaja but it is intercepted
Kramaric OUT, Vlasic IN
Looks like Kramaric has pulled his hamstring. The Croatian forward walks weeping as he will not be able to continue playing. Croatia is currently playing with 10 players
Morocco’s Ounahi has completed 77 per cent of his attempted take-ons at the 2022 World Cup (10/13), the highest rate of any player to attempt at least 10.
Bilal El Khannous OUT, Azzedine Ounahi IN
Morocco’s defense is tested time and again by the Croatian frontline. Kovacic does well inside the box and puts in a through ball to find Majer deep inside but Bono gets control of the ball after a bit of struggle from the defense
Lovely bit of football from Croatia. Modric initiates the attack from the Croatia half and finds Stanisic in the middle. The latter then whips out a dangerous long ball and finds Kramaric but Yamiq intercepts in time
SO CLOSE!!! Space from the Moroccan defense leads to a Croatian attack on the left. Orsic gets the ball outside the box and lets it fly but it brushes past the net after a deflection from Amarbat
Morocco starts this time and will look to keep playing the way it played in the previous half
An eventful first 45 minutes come to an end. Morocco, even though being the better looking team this half, is trailing after Orsic’s stunner right before the half time whistle blew.
Yet another injury scare for Morocco as Achraf Dari is down in pain. Looks like a hamstring injury as he is seen clutching his thigh right after getting up
Gvardiol’s miscues a header deep inside the Croatian half, En Nesyri tries to get to the ball but Livakovic rushes in to collect it
Two added minutes
CROATIA TAKES THE LEAD AND IN SOME STYLE!! ORSIC scores a stunner from the edge of the box as the ball hits the crossbar and goes inside the goal. Morocco had the momentum riding towards it but its defense fails to support yet again
Ziyech makes a brilliant run in the middle, skipping past three defenders and digs out a long ranger but the ball goes out without troubling Livakovic
Modric gets the ball deep inside the left flank but Yamiq marks him to perfection
Corner for Morocco and Ziyech takes it. His lofted ball finds En Nesyri’s head but the ball goes agonisingly close to the goal post! Morocco deserves to take the lead for the kind of football it has played for the past 15 minutes
Free kick for Morocco as Gvardiol pushes Sabiri down. Ziyech takes the kick as usual and puts in a searching lob ball but it is headed away
SO CLOSE!! Morocco has picked up pace now. Boufal leads the attack on the left and finds El Khannous and gets the ball back inside the box. He registers a shot but Croatian defense steps up as the ball goes out for a goal kick
UNLUCKYY!! Ziyech initiates a Moroccan attack with a lovely move to find Hakimi on the right. The PSG defender goes into the final third and whips out a cross but En-Nesyri fails to get a touch
Morocco concedes a free-kick. Majer takes it and sends in a lofted ball in an effort to find Kramaric inside the box but the striker is caught offside
Sloppy defending from Morocco continues. Allah gets a rebound inside the box but hits it straight to Livaja. He finds Modric at the edge of the box and the Real Madrid playmaker takes a couple of steps and dishes out a low shot, that nutmegs Dari, but Bono keeps the ball out
After being forced to play in its own half for a good couple of minutes, Morocco starts to counter finally as Bono lets out a long throw to find Sabiri. The latter runs into the Croatian half but is intercepted by Majer
After an electrifying first 10 minutes, the teams have taken a step back and are fighting to keep as much possession as they can. As of now, Croatia looks more threatening comparitively
CHANCE!! Kramaric makes a decent run to reach the edge of the box before passing it to Orsic on the left but the latter fails to capitalise the opening as the ball clattered into his teammate
Brilliant piece of defending from the scorer Dari. A Livaja-Kramaric link up led Croatia’s attack as the latter lashed out a shot but Dari slided in between to keep the ball away from danger
Gvardiol from the Croatian half sends in a low kept through ball on the left flank but the ball travels faster than Perisic for a Moroccan goal kick
Sabiri in the middle tries a through ball in an attempt to find Ziyech but Kramaric intercepts and the ball goes out for a Moroccan throw
Free kick for Morocco. Ziyech puts in a long ball, it takes a deflection and goes directly to Dari who heads it inside the post. Gvardiol’s goal is cancelled within minutes!!
Kramaric is down as he is fouled by Amarbat and it is a free-kick for Croatia. Majer takes the kick and puts a lofted ball into the penalty box that finds Perisic’s head and he passes it to Gvardiol and the masked man heads it past bono!! A memorable World Cup outing for the number 20 and he has topped it off with a goal!!
Modric is incharge of the corner and sends in a searching lob ball but Morocco clears it after initial struggle
Bono!! A sloppy kick from the Moroccan keeper almost goes into his own net. Luck favours him as the ball goes out for a Croatian corner
Attack from Dalic’s side straight away as Modric runs into the Moroccan half but Yamiq sweeps the ball out
Andrej Kramaric gets his first touch of the game as Croatia starts left to right
We are just minutes away from the third place match and the players have made their way into the middle. Time for national anthems. Croatia has opted for a 3-5-2 formation while Morocco will start with 4-1-2-3.
8:20pm: Ivan Perisic has scored six World Cup goals for Croatia – one more would make him their outright top scorer in the competition, surpassing Davor Suker.
8:10pm: Regardless of the result, Morocco participating in this match is the furthest an African nation has ever reached in World Cup history.
8:00pm: This is Croatia’s second third-place play-off match in the World Cup, previously beating Netherlands 2-1 in the 1998 edition.
If you’re wondering why Moroccan captain Romain Saiss is not starting today, here is the answer
7:50pm: Croatia has kept a clean sheet in all three of its previous World Cup matches against African sides, beating Cameroon 4-0 in 2014, Nigeria 2-0 in 2018, and drawing 0-0 with Morocco this year.
7:45pm: This is the second meeting between Croatia and Morocco at this World Cup, having played out a 0-0 draw on matchday one. Croatia was restricted to five shots, its fewest ever in a World Cup match.
To some, it’s little more than a meaningless exhibition match. To others, it’s a chance to become “immortal.”
The third-place playoff at the World Cup can be a confusing concept.
“You are so disappointed, you’ve just lost a semifinal and then two days later you have to go back out there,” Morocco coach Walid Regragui said Friday.
Regragui’s history-making team — the first African nation to reach the World Cup semifinals — will play Croatia on Saturday at Khalifa International Stadium.
“It’s like the booby prize,” Regragui said. “I am sorry for speaking like this. I understand that it should be important, I understand that it is better to finish third than fourth, but for, me my takeaway is that we just didn’t get to the final.”
Morocco’s run to the semifinals in Qatar provided the most improbable story of the tournament. The team was also the first Arab nation to go so far in soccer’s biggest event, generating an outpouring of pride among Arab countries.
After such a wild and dizzying ride, it’s understandable that Regragui sounded so flat when looking ahead to the match against Croatia. It’s also a measure of his own ambition that he ends an unforgettable tournament for African soccer with a sense of disappointment after being beaten by defending champion France 2-0.
“Yes, finishing third would be great for our image. We would be on the podium,” the coach said. “But you know what, even if we win the game tomorrow we won’t have got to the final and we won’t have won the World Cup.”
The atmosphere from the Croatian side has been more upbeat.
The runners-up from the last World Cup in Russia lost to Argentina 3-0 in the other semifinal match, but their players have spoken of the importance of winning another medal.
Forward Andrej Kramarić described it as the chance to “become an immortal hero in your country.”
“Eight of us from (the tournament in) Russia understand that feeling of winning a medal at the World Cup and we have a lot of players who haven’t experienced that and would love to do that because it’s something that will stay with you for the rest of their life,” Kramarić said.
Luka Modric, who is likely playing in his last World Cup, had similar thoughts.
“We need to leave everything to win the bronze medal and let our fans celebrate one more time,” he said.
To finish second and third in back-to-back World Cups would further secure the legacy of a golden generation for Croatia.
“Saturday’s match is not a small one for us, but a big final, a fight for third place, for a medal,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić said. “We have to prepare in every sense. It’s a big thing if we take the bronze medal, that would be great.
“The difference is being third or fourth in the world, we will do everything to do that.”
Morocco and Croatia have already played each other at this year’s World Cup, a 0-0 draw in the group stage.
Also Read | Morocco’s World Cup success boosts academy that produces talent
“We know that Croatia got a lot of stick because they weren’t able to beat Morocco,” Regragui said. “Morocco was one of the underdogs and now we both reached the semifinals.”
Injured Morocco center back Romain Saiss, the team’s captain, will miss the game after lasting only 21 minutes against France. Noussair Mazraoui, also substituted in that match, is a doubt.
“We have really, really pushed our players to the limits, but they still want to go out tomorrow and play again,” Regragui said. “But we are not going to be taking risks tomorrow for some of our players.”
When and where to watch
When will the Croatia vs Morocco third place play-off match kick-off?
The Croatia vs Morocco third place play-off match will kick-off at 8:30 pm IST, December 17.
Where will the Croatia vs Morocco third place play-off match kick-off?
The Croatia vs Morocco third place play-off match will kick-off at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Where can you watch the Croatia vs Morocco third place play-off match in India?
The Croatia vs Morocco third place play-off match will be telecasted live on Sports18 and Sports18 HD. On Android and well as iOS, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be live streamed on JioCinema.
Where can you watch the Croatia vs Morocco third place play-off match outside India?
Argentina – Live Stream: Telemundo
United States – TV: FOX, Telemundo; Live Stream: fuboTV, Fox Sports app, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo
Canada – TV: CTV, TSN; Live Stream: fuboTV, TSN app
United Kingdom – TV: BBC One; Live Stream: BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Website
Australia – TV: SBS; Live Stream: SBS On Demand
New Zealand – TV: Sky Sports; Live Stream: Sky Sport
Malaysia – TV: RTM, Astro; Live Stream: Astro Go
Singapore – TV: Mediacorp Channel 5; Live Stream: StarHub TV+, IPTV, Singtel TV
Hong Kong – TV: BeIN Sports, ITV; Live Stream: Now TV, ViuTV
Nigeria – SuperSport and Showmax Pro.