MOROCCO VS CROATIA: THE PERFECT PLAY-OFF FOR BRONZE IN THE WORLD CUP
The final match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 for third place, will take place at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday between Morocco and Croatia. There is still a chance for Croatia, led by Zlatko Dalic, and Morocco, led by Walid Regragui, to secure a podium finish in the FIFA World Cup 2022 third-place playoff in Qatar. Knockout games during the FIFA World Cup can be cruel at times, as it has happened to Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest players ever to play the game, who left the tournament after the quarterfinals, and Luka Modric, a Ballon D'Or winner and the runner-up in the previous World Cup, who lost in the semifinals.
The Moroccans and Croatia are scheduled to face off for the bronze medal in tonight's match. There was a slight disappointment for the Moroccan team since they didn't quite perform well enough to qualify for the final event, but they are still well worth a shot at placing third. With victories over Spain and Portugal in the group stage, as well as a win over Belgium, they are entitled to a better finish than that disappointing loss to France. Croatia has been a top tournament team at the last two World Cups, and it has been among the top 10 teams over the last two years. There is something that Zlatko Dalic brings to his games that makes them so compelling and that shows their never say die attitude. Nobody was expecting the Croatian team to make it all the way through the quarterfinals against Brazil, but they came back from one goal down to win on penalties, as Dominik Livakovic made World Cup history by scoring the winning penalty.
Although the team may have finished second in Russia, there is a deep sense of disappointment when it loses in the final to the Japanese team. Especially on a stage like this, which is of such great importance. This is their last chance to end the season on a high note and to add another title to their collection by making it to the third-place play-off. The achievement of even a third place should make them feel as if they have accomplished something, even if it seems trivial at first. The fact that both countries are outside of the larger nations makes this a significant event for them. As one of the smallest nations in the world, Croatia, made its way to the semifinals for the first time in 1998, securing third place with a famous victory over the Netherlands. There was a lot of talent on the Dutch team, including Edwin van de Sar, Edgar Davids, and Patrick Kluivert, but it was the Croatian team led by Davor Suker that walked away with a 2-1 victory over the Dutch. After finishing third in that tournament, Croatia was widely acclaimed by the people of their country for their accomplishments.
It is interesting to point out that the Swedish team had defeated Bulgaria four years earlier in the Rose Bowl in the third-place play-off between the two unfancied nations. The 91,500 fans in attendance on the day Henrik Larsson's team competed against eventual champions Brazil was the largest attendance for a semi-final game in the history of the tournament. This was a record attendance for a semi-final game. Having an opportunity to celebrate one last day with Morocco and Croatia, and with some of the star players of this team saying farewell for the final time, will be a great way to end this tournament. There is no doubt that Luka Modric is the star of the show. Even though this will most likely be his last World Cup, the winner of the Ballon d'Or has not yet confirmed that he will retire from international football.
Leaving the World Cup with a win, rather than a semi-final thrashing, would be the ideal way for him to bid farewell to the event, and Croatia may be able to secure their third top-three finish in 24 years. This is going to be the last party for Morocco in Qatar, and it is an opportunity to make one last mark on the history books as the side that has thrilled the world for so long.
In history, they are the only African team to make the final four. Now is the time to cement their legacy by securing third place. There is no doubt that this game will be worth watching, and it may even warm the cockles of those of us who wanted to wipe this fixture off the face of the earth but did not want to see it happen.