Morocco v Croatia: World Cup 2022 – live | World Cup 2022


Key events

Football is the greatest, part Infinity:

Time taken by ITV to make its England pivot: seven minutes.

In similar vein: a game I’ve learnt from my nine-year-old daughter, common in 20s London (and presumably elsewhere): Yellow Car. It goes like this: you see a yellow car, you shout “yellow car” and dispense a dead arm to whoever you’re with.

Let me share a massive déja vu I just enjoyed: Joe Cole pronouncing “world” as “weld”, extremely common gear in 80s London. Also of that ilk: “embarrassed” pronounced as “embarrissed”.

Teams!

Morocco (4-2-3-1): Bounou; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saïss, Mazraoui; Amrabat, Ounahi; Amallah, Boufal, Ziyech; En Nesyri. Subs: Hamdallah, Zaroury, Sabiri, El Kajoui, Chair, Jabrane, Aboukhlal, Ezzalzouli, El Yamiq, Dari, Cheddira, Tagnaouti, El Khannouss, Benoun, Attiat Allah.

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

Referee: Fernando Andrés Rapallini (Argentina)

Preamble

And it don’t stop! As if yesterday’s antics weren’t enough, here commenceth another quadruple game-day, a tasty tetris of World Cup FootballTM for our delectation. Bing-bing whee sliiiide.

At Mexico 86, Morocco became the first African nation to advance from the group stages, beaten by a late Lothar Matthäus free-kick in the last 16. And though they’ve only qualified three items since then, failing to replicate that achievement on each occasion, they’ve got some serious players this time around so will be quietly confident of doing something here.

The star of Moroccan football is the electric Achraf Hakimi, a one-man right flank. But on the left, Bayern’s Noussair Mazraoui is also excellent while, in between, are Roman Saïss of Wolves and Nayef Aguerd of West Ham; that’s a pretty sound defence. In front of them can be found Sofyan Amrabat of Fiorentina and Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea, whose guile is so crucial that, when he fell out with Vahid Halilhodzic, it was the coach who made way. I do wonder if they’ll struggle for goals – Youssef En-Nesyri, their likely centre-forward, is not exactly prolific – but he can play so, if the attacking midfielders can get around him, his team are in business.

Croatia, meanwhile, are a minor version of Germany’s Turniermannschaft – tournament team – a constant presence in the later stages of proceedings. And looking at their current side, the potential for more success is there. Josip Juranovic – of Celtic – is a dynamic right-back , while in the middle and on the left of the back four, Josko Gvardiol and Bosko Sutalo have elite-level potential.

But it’s in midfield where Croatia’s class consistently tells and though the tremendous Ivan Rakitic has departed, neither Luka Modric nor his genius have done likewise, and next to him, Marcelo Brozovic provides first-class ballast. Like Morocco, though, Croatia lack a reliable scorer, which is to say that even if goals are at a premium, both these sides will fancy themselves to accompany Belgium, the likely group winners, into the last 16, so we can expect another engrossing, uplifting match.

Kick-off: 1pm local, 10am GMT





Source link