Morocco vs Croatia: World Cup Group F preview, Round 1, 2022
Ivan Perisic in action in friendly victory over Saudi Arabia: Goran Stanzl/ Pixsell/ MB Media/ Getty Images

Morocco and Croatia will contest the Group F opener of the 2022 World Cup in what could be one of the most competitive groups at the tournament.

The Atlas Lions will be hoping to make a strong start in a group featuring Belgium and Canada alongside Wednesday morning's opposition. Following a comfortable qualification campaign, this will be their sixth outing in the tournament with their best performance coming in 1986 where they reached the Round of 16.

Croatia can take inspiration from their memorable 2018 campaign where they were runners-up and will be hoping to get off to a winning start with a talented squad led by Luka Modric likely playing for the last time in the tournament.

The fixture will be just the second encounter between the two nations having met once before in a 1996 friendly tournament where the spoils were shared in a 2-2 draw.

  • Team News

Morocco

Newly appointed Walid Regragui will be aiming to get the best out of a squad that has the potential to be a surprise package with notable talent at his disposal.

The North African side has particular standouts in Achraf Hakimiand Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech  who could prove to be key outlets for the nation.

Regragui's side also features further defensive quality in Bayern Munich Summer signing Noussair Mazraoui alongside the experienced Romain Saiss.

Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat will likely feature with former Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal also in contention whilst Youssef En-Nesyri could lead the attack.

Croatia

Zlatko Dalic will lead his side out with the ultimate task of topping their historic performance at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a squad that possesses genuine quality all round.

Modric should play the focal role in a side featuring the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic of Chelsea and Inter Milan respectively with a blend of young talent and major tournament experience across the squad.

The Valtreni also have two exciting youngsters in Josko Gvardiol and Bosko Sutalo who could form the backbone of the team whilst there are numerous attacking options amongst Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric for the side.

 

  • Likely lineups

Morocco: Bounou; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Mazraoui; Amallah, Amrabat, Ounahi; Ziyech, E-Nesyri, Boufal

Croatia: Livakovic; Juranovic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic

  • Key Players

Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)

Achraf Hakimi is one to watch for Morocco (Phot by: Fran Santiago/ Getty Images)
EmbedfromGettyImages","resizeType":"noresize","maxWidth":null,"maxHeight":null,"align":"none","classes":{"embeddedContent":1}}">

 

The Paris Saint Germain right back ranks amongst the best in the world in his position and can definitely prove to be instrumental in Morocco's World Cup campaign.

The 23-year-old already has domestic league titles in Italy and France as well as being the first Moroccan to win the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid in 2018.

With a total of 54 caps for his country, Hakimi has scored 8 providing 7 assists in this period showing real effectiveness from right back with his speed and creativity making him a player to watch in the group stages.

Luka Modric (Croatia)

Luka Modric in UEFA Nations League action against Austria (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/ Getty Images)

For all the talent in the European nation's squad, it is hard to look past the sheer brilliance of the midfield maestro.

The 2018 Ballon d'Or winner has shown the ability to dictate the tempo of games for his side with exceptional creativity and a knack for goals as evident in his sensational strike against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup.

In what could well be his last outing at the historic tournament for his home nation, the Real Madrid star could once again prove to be the heartbeat in a Croatia side hoping to channel their 2018 heroics once more.

  • Match details

Where is the match being played?

The Group F opener will be played at the Al Bayt Stadium with a capacity of 60,000 in Al Kohr, Qatar.

What time is kick-off?

Kick-off is set for 10am GMT/ 5:00 ET/ 2:00 PT on Wednesday the 23rd.

How can I watch?

The match will be broadcast on ITV1 and STV for the UK and on Telemundo and Fox Sports 1 for the United States.

VAVEL Logo