– Croatia have lost just once in 16 games since they were eliminated from Euro 2020
– Morocco have not reached the knockout stages of the World Cup since 1986
– Recommended bet:
Two more nations open their accounts for the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday as Croatia look to dodge their opener against potential dark horse Morocco.
Promotion from Group F is a realistic goal for both, with leaders Belgium and underdogs Canada making up the lists.
Croatia lost the finalists last time out and perhaps know better than anyone how important a strong start can be. Three of their opening five matches at World Cups ended in defeat – and they failed to advance to the knockout stages on those three occasions.
The Moroccans have reached a consecutive World Cup for the first time since two group eliminations in 1994 and 1998. The Atlas Lions are keen to channel the spirit of Mexico ’86, which saw them finish in the last 16 – their best finishes – after leading a group that also included England and Poland.
Morocco should be able to call on the services of Sofyan Amrabat, who was absent from midfield in Thursday’s friendly against Georgia.
Stars Achraf Hakimi at right-back, centre-backs Nayef Aguerd and Romain Saiss and attackers Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri are expected.
The Croatian unit has changed a lot from the team that surprised in Russia, but the key figures remain Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic in midfield.
Zlatko Dalic has to choose between Bruno Petkovic and Andrej Kramaric at the top.
While Croatia have failed to progress beyond the group stage on three occasions, they have reached the last four in their two successful group campaigns – including their 2018 final against France.
Morocco won all six matches in the second round of Africa qualifying and conceded just once, scoring 20 goals.
They enter the tournament in the same scoring form, having netted three unanswered goals against the Georgians, including a remarkable long-range effort from Ziyech, which saw him lob from his own half into the Atlas Lions’ second.
Croatia’s latest preparation ended in a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia last Wednesday, with Kramaric breaking the deadlock late in the day.
Dalic’s men are unbeaten in five games and have lost just one game – a Nations League clash against Austria in June – of sixteen since being eliminated in the round of 16 at Euro 2020.
Croatia and the rest of Group F would do well to be wary of the many big names in Morocco’s ranks; The Atlas Lions are more than capable of taking the game to their opponents but the Croatians should have too much for them.
Beating France, Denmark and Austria to top the Nations League in the break between major tournaments, Croatia proved they deserved their place at the top of European football.
The runners-up from 2018 are the favorites for the duel on 21./20. with LiveScore Bet to start the tournament with a win, but Morocco’s goal record shouldn’t be ignored; Count on a Croatia win with both teams to score.
Whoever is favored between Petkovic and Kramaric will be keen to speak out early;
Qatar 2022 squad: you score, you score!
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