Morocco vs Croatia predictions: Modric and co to edge out Atlas Lions
Two more nations open their World Cup 2022 accounts on Wednesday as Croatia look to dodge their opening-game hoodoo against potential dark horses Morocco.
Progression from Group F is a realistic aim for both, with leading lights Belgium and outsiders Canada making up the listings.
Losing finalists last time out, Croatia know perhaps better than anyone else just how important a strong start can be. Three of their five opening matches at World Cups have ended in defeat — and they have failed to reach the knockout stages on each of those three occasions.
The Moroccans have reached back-to-back World Cups for the first time since two group exits in 1994 and 1998. The Atlas Lions will be keen to channel the spirit of Mexico '86, which saw them run to the last 16 — their best finish — after topping a group also containing England and Poland.
Morocco should be able to call on the services of Sofyan Amrabat, who was absent from the midfield in the friendly win over Georgia on Thursday.
Star names Achraf Hakimi at right-back, central defenders Nayef Aguerd and Romain Saiss and attackers Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri are all expected to feature.
Croatia's unit is much-changed from the crop that surprised in Russia, but key figures remain in Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic in midfield.
Zlatko Dalic must choose between Bruno Petkovic and Andrej Kramaric up top.
While Croatia have failed three times to advance from the group phase, their two successful group campaigns have seen them reach the last four — including their run to the 2018 final against France.
Morocco won all six games in round two of African qualifying, conceding just once as they ran in 20 goals.
They come into the tournament in the same goalsome form, having put three unanswered goals past the Georgians, including a remarkable long-distance effort from Ziyech that saw him lob in the Atlas Lions' second from inside his own half.
Croatia's final preparations ended in a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia last Wednesday, with Kramaric breaking the deadlock late in the day.
Dalic's men are on a five-match unbeaten run and have lost just one game — a Nations League clash against Austria in June — from sixteen since their last-16 exit at Euro 2020.
Croatia and the rest of Group F will do well to be wary of the many big names in Morocco's ranks; the Atlas Lions are more than capable of bringing the game to their opponents, but the Croatians should have too much for them.
Seeing off France, Denmark and Austria to top their Nations League group, Croatia proved in the gap between major tournaments that they deserve their seat at the top table of European football.
The 2018 runners-up are the favourites for the clash, at 21/20 with LiveScore Bet to kick-off the tournament with a win, but Morocco's goalscoring record should not be ignored; a Croatia win with both teams to score can be backed at .
Qatar 2022 Squads: They Score, You Score!
LiveScore Bet’s World Cup 2022 Squads is free and simple to play. Log in to view the Squads page, where you’ll get the chance to reveal up to five players. Your squad will earn you cash for each goal scored in the listed games. Reveal each player at the stated time throughout the round to complete your line-up. T&Cs apply – .