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Sports


Croatia begin campaign against Morocco in Qatar WC

Croatia begin campaign against Morocco in Qatar WC

Doha, Nov 22 (UNI) After making it all the way through to the final four years ago, Croatia will be keen to achieve something special on Arab soil when they lock horns with Morocco here on Wednesday.
Zlatko Dalic's side is keen to seize the moment of securing a spot in the final four of the UEFA Nations League and take full advantage of the talented crop of technically gifted players available to him.
The mercurial players of the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren, clearly strengthens the case of a national team that has made waves at the top table of international football in recent times.
Among the resplendent lot, one can never tire of speaking volumes about Modric who is simply head and shoulders above the rest. His natural talent and tireless work ethic have made him one of the greatest players of his generation, and he is now challenged with proving that once again.
The fresh-faced Gvardiol could very well turn out to be one of the standout performers in Qatar. A ball-playing centre-back with excellent technical ability, the youngster adopts a no-nonsense approach in his duels with opposition forwards.
Croatia are taking part in their sixth FIFA World Cup. At their first in France 24 years ago, they achieved a historic third-place finish.
At Russia 2018, they went one better and finished runners-up. In between, they failed to qualify in 2010 and were eliminated in the group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2014.
On the flipside, Morocco kick off their campaign knowing the importance of a good start to progress from the group.
Morocco are making their sixth World Cup appearance and second in succession after competing in Russia, where they failed to progress from the group.
Hakim Ziyech, who came back into the Morocco squad after coach Vahid Halilhodzic was replaced by Walid Regragui, scored a great goal from halfway in their last friendly against Georgia.
Morocco have a number of top quality players to call on, such as Achraf Hakimi and Nayef Aguerd.
Croatia and Morocco's only meeting came in the semi-final of the King Hassan II International Cup Tournament on 11 December 1996. The match finished 2-2, with Croatia winning 7-6 on penalties.
Morocco have played a total of 16 World Cup fixtures, winning two, drawing five and losing nine, with both wins coming against European opposition in Portugal and Scotland.
Starting XIs (probable)
Morocco: Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Achraf Dari, Romain Saiss, Noussair Mazraoui, Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah, Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En-Nesyri, Sofiane Boufal.
Croatia: Dominik Livakovic, Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Barisic, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Nikola Vlasic, Bruno Petkovic, Ivan Perisic.
UNI BDN BAV

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