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FIFA World Cup Third-Place Play Off - Croatia vs Morocco 

Mary C

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Croatia vs Morocco 

Croatia and Morocco are set to get the bronze medal in Saturday’s third-place play off, held at the Khalifa International Stadium, and neither team should turn down a podium finish of the biggest stage. Argentina easily defeated Zlakto Dalic’s team with a 3-0 in their semifinal game while the Atlas Lion courageously fought against France but were defeated by two goals to zero. Only a few attackers faced the masked warrior that is Josko Gvardiol and beaten the RB Leipzig youth, but even one of Europe’s most in-demand defenders was no match for a 35-year-old Lionel Messi. 

Prior to his humiliation of a guy, 15 years his junior, Messi scored from the penalty spot in Argentina’s semifinal against Croatia before Julian Alvarez’s solo run delivered La Albiceleste their second although with some slices of luck after a few ricochets. Argentina’s third was everything, but fortunate as Messi rolled back the years on the right before finding up Alvarez to tap home Argentina’s third and deny Croatia a second berth in a World Cup Final – against 2018 opponents France, no less. Dalic’s team made the 2018 World Cup final and the 2022 semifinals without winning a knockout game in regular time, and they are no strangers to bronze medal contests, having defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in the 1998 third-place playoff during their debut World Cup campaign. 

Croatia will not be relied to learn that the third-place playoff has near been decided on spot kinks, and the unfettered Morocco supporters will most certainly continue to bash their drums for one last ride. Morocco, the first African nation to reach a World Cup semifinal, might have become the continent’s first side to make it all the way to the final had it not been for the lack of killing instinct in the final third. Walid Regragui’s team gave France a worry during the semifinal match on Wednesday, but the Atlas Lions’ hopes of winning the tournament for Qatar were dashed by Theo Hernandez’s daring goal and Randal Kolo Muani’s tap in 44 seconds after entering the field. 

The early retirement of injured trio Noussair Mazraoui, Romain Saiss , and Nayef Aguerd did not assist the Africans’ efforts, but once Morocco’s current crop will return to their hometown, they will be considered as national heroes and might possibly be wearing bronze medals around their necks on the way back. Regragui’s team had not surrendered to an opponent player in Qatar until to Hernandez’s breach with only five minutes on the clock on Wednesday, but they may still become the first country since Spain’s successful team of 2010 to maintain as many as five clean sheets in a single World Cup. Just a few weeks after their goalless stalemate in Group F, where the checkered ones were limited to just five shots against Regragui’s backline, Croatia and Morocco will resume defensive performance. They may win a historic World Cup trophy. 



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