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Morocco vs Croatia – World Cup: Team news, lineups & prediction

Morocco face 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia on Wednesday morning in the opening match of Group F.

The Atlas Lions bowed out at the group stage four-and-a-half years ago, collecting just one point. However, they ploughed through African qualifying impressively and have ambitions of matching the historic 1986 team which reached the round of 16.

Croatia didn’t even exist in its modern guise when Morocco topped a group containing England, Poland and Portugal in Mexico. They have since claimed bronze and silver on the global stage and arrive in Qatar in good form.

Here’s everything you need to know about the intriguing meeting between this pair.

Morocco vs Croatia H2H Results (Last Five Games)

Current Form (Last Five Games)

Morocco team news

The luckless Amine Harit sprained his cruciate ligament in Marseille’s final league match before the international hiatus. Ironically, the Monaco player that committed the foul, Axel Disasi, was a late addition to France’s World Cup squad after injury opened an extra slot in Didier Deschamps’ squad.

Burnley‘s Anass Zaroury has replaced Harit in Morocco’s setup.

Selim Amallah hasn’t featured for Standard Liege since September but was still called up Walid Regragui. The Barcelona loanee Ez Abde has also been nursing a muscular complaint which leaves his involvement in the opener uncertain.

Morocco Starting 11 (4-3-3): Bounou; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Mazraoui; Amallah, Amrabat, Ounahi; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.
Bench: Mohamedi, Tagnaouti, El Yamiq, Dari, Benoun, Attiyat Allah, Zaroury, Chair, Aboukhlal, El Khannous, Jabrane, Hamdallah, Sabiri, Abde, Cheddira.

Croatia team news

Croatia emerged unscathed from their final pre-World Cup friendly with Saudi Arabia. Marko Livaja and Kristijan Jakic were the only members of the 26-man squad that didn’t feature in Riyadh – though neither are thought to be injury doubts.

Croatia Starting 11 (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic.
Bench: Grbic, Ivusic, Stanisic, Barisic, Erlic, Lovren, Vida, Majer, Pasalic, Sucic, Jakic, Livaja, Petkovic, Budimir, Orsic.

While Morocco’s strength resides on the flanks – chiefly their glitzy fullback pairing of PSG‘s Achraf Hakimi and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui – Croatia’s midfield is the envy of many.

However, Luka Modric and co are up against a Morocco side not to be underestimated. Regragui was only appointed in August but has reintegrated key figures, such as Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, that had been shunned by his predecessor Vahid Halilhodzic.

In a contest that could prove to be more evenly balanced than their recent World Cup records suggest, Morocco and Croatia may share the spoils in this Group F opener.

Prediction: Morocco 1-1 Croatia

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