World Cup 2022 Playoff Preview: Croatia vs. Morocco

The World Cup is over for Croatia and Morocco, as they have been eliminated from competition. No matter what happens, neither team is going to be taking the trophy with them when they leave.

But as this World Cup – which has brought so many surprises, so much drama, and seen so many dreams being shattered as well as coming true – draws to a close, these two teams have a unique opportunity for their swan song: to say farewell to Qatar with their heads held high and reflect on what has been done and what may be in the future.

Only three weeks have passed since their most recent meeting, which was a tense 0-0 draw in the opening game of Group F, yet it feels like it has been a lifetime. The paucity of goals in the encounter was more than made up for by the high level of competition displayed by both teams in their pursuit of victory. However, given that neither Croatia nor Morocco have anything left to lose at this point, it is unlikely that we will see the same nerves on Saturday.

Luka Modric, the commander of the Croatian midfield, is likely to be saying his goodbyes. Over the course of the last 15 years, the 37-year-old skipper has been extremely important to Croatia’s rise to prominence as a footballing power. He was a member of the team that competed in the European Championships in 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020. Additionally, he competed in the World Cup in 2006, 2014, 2018, and 2022.

The expression “end of an era” is overused, but when Luka Modric finally hangs up his cleats in the world of international football, it truly will be.

It is a moment for Morocco to get acclaim and thanks from a world that dared for a few weeks to believe in the impossible. It is also a moment for the team to show us once again what they are capable of accomplishing in the subsequent international cycle.

Although many people had the Atlas Lions pegged as the underdog going into the World Cup, getting to the semifinals of the tournament is not a matter of chance alone. They got where they are now through scheming, toiling, and natural ability. Because of their story, an unusual account of victory against the odds – time and time again – this game has captured all of our hearts.

“Having already completed a hat-trick of World Cup firsts for Africa, history once again beckons for Morocco and Walid Regragui’s men,” David Webber, a researcher into the cultural and political economy of football at Solent University, said in an interview with Al Jazeera. “Having already completed a hat-trick of World Cup firsts for Africa,”

It is possible that Morocco’s performance in this World Cup will be sufficient to convince FIFA delegates to eventually award the tournament itself to Morocco after multiple unsuccessful bids in the past.

“Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game, the Moroccans will bring the noise and the passion that they have throughout the tournament. In doing so, they will celebrate a team that has given the nation and the North African region the most memorable month in the rich footballing history of their country.”

The narrative of this World Cup may have centered on Morocco, but that does not make Croatia any less deserving of the title. This game is all on proving your worth. The statement “when the fall is all that is left, it counts” is taken from James Goldman’s novel The Lion in Winter.

In the world of European football, there is no other power that can compare to Croatia’s. This is a small country with a population of fewer than four million people. They weren’t even officially recognized by FIFA until the year 1992, but by 1998, they had already finished in third place in their very first World Cup competition.

According to Webber, now is the time for Modric to leave the international stage with the kind of triumphant climax that his remarkable career deserves.

According to what he had remarked, “this World Cup has been about ‘the last dance’ for so many of Modric’s contemporaries.”

“And while all eyes will be on Messi on Sunday evening to see whether he can finally lead Argentina to World Cup success, Croatia’s own number 10 will have the opportunity to bow out with a victory rather than the agony of a semifinal loss in their match against Morocco on Saturday,”

Nobody wants to be forced to participate in this game. But now that they are here, the dreamers and warriors of Morocco and Croatia are going to give it their all.

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