2018 finalists, Croatia will clash with the Atlas Lions of Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium at 10:00GMT.
The Moroccans will be making consecutive appearances following their return to the World Cup in 2018 after 20 years. The Africans had a good qualifying campaign as they completed the group stage with a 100% record and subsequently trampled over Congo on a 5-2 aggregate scoreline in the playoff.
However, their dreadful record at the World Cup ticks the positive boxes for their opponents. Morocco has won only one game in their last 10 matches at the World Cup. On a mission to proceed from the group stage for the first time since 1986, they definitely face a daunting task against Croatia.
Croatia also had a good qualification run and topped their group ahead of Russia. They may not match the quality they possessed four years ago but their current crop of players are fairly competent.
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE MATCHES)
Both teams have found form at the right time to kick start the campaign. Morocco have recorded a draw and four wins in their last five while conceding only once. Croatia are also on a five-game winning run including victories over France and Denmark.
17 November 2022 Morocco 3–0 Georgia Friendly
27 September 2022 Morocco 0–0 Paraguay Friendly
23 September 2022 Morocco 2–0 Chile Friendly
13 June 2022 Liberia 0–2 Morocco 2023 AFCON qualification
9 June 2022 Morocco 2–1 South Africa 2023 AFCON qualification
16 November 2022 Saudi Arabia 0–1 Croatia International friendly
25 September 2022 Austria 1–3 Croatia UEFA Nations League
22 September 2022 Croatia 2–1 Denmark UEFA Nations League
13 June 2022 France 0–1 Croatia UEFA Nations League
10 June 2022 Denmark 0–1 Croatia UEFA Nations League
HEAD TO HEAD
The two sides have only engaged each other once in a friendly competition which ended in a stalemate.
11 Dec 1996 Morocco 2-2 Croatia Hassan II Trophy
Chelsea winger, Hakim Ziyech may team up with Sofiane Boufal behind Yousef El-Nesyri in attack while Roman Saiss heads the defence men with Achraf Hakimi supporting from the flanks. Aguerd’s return from injury is the biggest positive news for the Moroccans
(4-3-3): Bonou; Hakimi, Saiss, Aguerd, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal
Croatia may still have to worry in attack as they have not replaced Mario Mandzukic with a quality forward after the former Bayern striker announced his retirement. Luka Modric is expected to pair with Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic in midfield.
(4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic.Read Full Story