Group F opener fell short of expectations as Atlas Lions battled 2018 finalists Croatia.
World Cup 2022 Highlights – Morocco 0-0 Croatia as none of the side could deliver in their group F’s opener.
Croatia – the runners-up four years ago – were strong favorites at Al Bayt Stadium but crafted few opportunities of note.
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Luka Modrid was still running the show as he did in Russia, however, age has come at him slowly.
With Mateo Kovacic underperformed, Ivan Rakitic retired from national team, Modric was mostly on his own.
Meanwhile, Achraf Hakimi showed his class as he starred in the defense of Morocco by neutralizing Ivan Perisic; and for multiple times, had Modric struggle with his speed and tense pressing.
Achraf Hakimi did stand out for his work rate and solidity:
- winning all three of his tackle attempts,
- producing a team-high three interceptions
- and coming out on top in 10 of his 16 duel involvements
- Ivan Perisic was very, very quiet as a result.
Initially Croatia struggled to cope with the intensity of Morocco’s pressing, but the Atlas Lions did not possess the quality to convert their bluster into meaningful chances.
Nikola Vlasic went close and Perisic tried his luck with a long-range shot following Hakimi’s careless pass; but no celebration at all.
Dejan Lovren saw another reasonable chance go begging early in the second half, but otherwise Croatia failed to take advantage of their considerably greater share of possession.
Neither side had a great deal of joy in that regard.
Yassine Bounou crucially blocked Vlasic’s prodded effort from point-blank range after Borna Sosa passed into the danger zone.
The second half was far from being different, with chances came but still no goals at both ends.
It began with Dominik Livakovic keeping out a Noussair Mazraoui header, and a few minutes later Sofyan Amrabat made a vital block to stop Lovren picking out the bottom-left corner.
In the end, Morocco’s deep defence ultimately got the better of Croatia’s blunt attack as they held on to a commendable point.
In their past five World Cup appearances, Croatia lost three of the five opening games. The exceptions are only in 1998 and 2018 when they reached semi-finals and finals.