Kick-off: 1500, 17/12/2022
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
Croatia and Morocco must both try to pick themselves up from semi-final losses when meeting in the World Cup third-place play-off.
If body language is anything to go by, we reckon the Atlas Lions will be more up for this Qatar 2022 consolation prize.
They should be prepared to keep fighting for their hordes of vociferous fans – and will also be spurred on by representing the whole of Africa.
We’re happy to take 21/10 for them to prevail in normal time as our first Croatia vs Morocco prediction.
These teams met in the opening round of Group F fixtures, when they shared the spoils following a goalless stalemate.
Croatia went on to thump Canada 4-1 and survived several late scares to draw 0-0 with Belgium, progressing as pool runners-up.
Despite being second best for long periods against Japan and Brazil, the Blazers advanced via penalty shoot-outs.
However, there looked little left in the tank when they were stuffed 3-0 by Argentina in the semi-finals.
Having reached the final four years ago, captain Luka Modric is keen to bow out on a high in his last World Cup.
“We have the third-placed match, win the match and go back to Croatia with a medal,” said the Real Madrid midfielder.
“We need to leave everything to win the bronze medal and let our fans celebrate one more time.
“I think it would be negative, given how we played, how we behaved, to finish this tournament with a loss. We have to give everything in that match.”
The 37-year-old is one of the players who has looked to be flagging during the knockout rounds, though, and we’re not sure he has the legs for another stamina-sapping contest at this level.
Looking at the Croatia vs Morocco odds, we like 23/20 for the Atlas Lions to score first.
Morocco followed up their early draw with Croatia by upsetting Belgium 2-0 and then seeing off Canada 2-1 to top the group.
The Atlas Lions were predictably starved of possession by Spain at the last-16 stage but held firm at the back and ultimately prevailed in a shoot-out.
It was a similar story of feeding off scraps when Walid Regragui’s side faced Portugal in the quarter-finals but they won 1-0 thanks to Youssef En-Nesyri’s opportunist header.
The Moroccan fans probably outnumbered their French counterparts by a ratio of 10 to one for Wednesday’s semi at Al Bayt Stadium, but Theo Hernandez struck a crushing blow in just the fifth minute.
However, the Atlas Lions proved their shock progression into the last four was no fluke, going toe-to-toe with the defending champions, as well as having a strong penalty claim turned down.
Azzedine Ounahi tested Hugo Lloris from long range, while a spectacular overhead kick by Jawad El Yamiq was turned onto the post by the Tottenham keeper.
Several fine moves just weren’t quite finished off and Les Bleus eventually gave themselves some breathing space when Randal Kolo Muani tapped in a deflected shot at the far post in the closing stages.
France were worthy winners, but there could be no doubting the courage of Morocco and their noisy supporters will no doubt remain faithful and be out in force once more here.
That can help inspire the Atlas Lions to dust themselves down and go again, so 15/4 for them to win by any one-goal margin is added to our Croatia vs Morocco betting tips.
(Assist: Ivan Perisic)
(Assist: Marko Livaja)
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