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World Cup Third Place Match Preview: Croatia vs Morocco | Two Tough Defences Tussle

The Vatreni and Atlas Lions are both looking to end their 2022 World Cup on a high note

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FIFA World Cup 3rd-place playoff Photo by Kemal Delikmen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

While perhaps not as exciting a battle of narratives as the World Cup Final, Croatia and Morocco playing for third place in the tournament will likely be one of the best-organized games of football most individuals will have the chance to see. Both teams bowed out to better side inArgentina and France respectively in the semi-finals, but they put up valiant efforts across and throughout every minute of each match.

On the one hand, Croatia looks to cap a two World Cup run in which they finished second and third, respectively - never considered favorites in either mind you - while Morocco - already guaranteed the best finish ever for an African nation at a World Cup - will look to place third and etch their names into the history books one more time. Will Luka Modric get a win in his final World Cup match, or is it the Atlas Lions who will set more records to end the competition.

The Game

  • Date: Saturday, December 17
  • Kickoff Time: 7:00 am PT / 10:00 am ET / 3:00 pm GMT
  • Location: Khalifa International Stadium
  • Match Officials: Referee: Abdulrahman Al Jassim (QAT), Assistant Referee 1: Taleb Al Marri (QAT), Assistant Referee 2: Saoud Al-Maqaleh (QAT)
  • How To Watch: TV and streaming info via Live Soccer TV
  • TV - Fox Network, Telemundo, ITV
  • Streaming - Sling TV
Aerial Views Of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Venues Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Predicted Line-ups

Croatia Lineup (4-1-2-3):

Zlatko Dalić has used the 4-3-3 as his preferred shape throughout the 2022 World Cup, and I do not see it stopping for the final match of the tournament either. Their loss to Argentina was a matter of class and execution, but when they’re on point, their scheme allows for wonderful defensive prowess as well as a spring-loaded counter in which they have several positive, creative minds running the show behind three forwards.

Livakovic; Sosa, Gvardiol, Lovren, Juranovic; Brozovic; Kovacic, Modric; Perisic, Kramaric, Pasalic

Morocco Lineup (3-4-3):

While the shape of the Atlas Lions is simple to predict, their squad has seen injuries take their toll and so might have some different faces at various points on the pitch than we are used to seeing. With their effective use of wingbacks, this Moroccan team - differently than Croatia - can really compress and expand as the scenario on the pitch calls for either.

Bono; El Yamiq, Amallah, Dari; Mazraoui, Amrabat, Ounahi, Hakimi; Boufal, En-Nesyri, Ziyech

FBL-WC-2022-MATCH61-ARG-CRO Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Final Thoughts

The championship match is certainly a high-flying affair with two of the best offensive players in the game in Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, but the third-place match has two of the staunchest defenses in world football. They both demonstrated it all tournament by defeating the likes of Brazil, Spain, and Portugal to name just three; how they can attack and break down one another will be key in determining who takes third place and who goes home with all of their dreams crushed to dust.

FBL-WC-2022-MATCH62-FRA-MAR Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

I think the tilt could go either way, but I’m choosing Morocco to score one more upset in order to make just a bit more history before club football resumes!

Prediction: 2-1 Morocco