Talking Tactics: Where Croatia vs Morocco will be won and lost
Croatia and Morocco far exceeded expectations to make it to the last four of the World Cup — but just missed out on a place in the final.
Having been eliminated by Argentina and France respectively, they will now face each other in the third place play-off.
The two sides share many traits — they are dogged defensively, refuse to accept when they are beaten and play with peerless aggression and tenacity.
We take a look at where the match will be won and lost ahead of their clash at the Khalifa International Stadium.
This is not the first time Croatia and Morocco have faced off in Qatar.
Both teams were drawn in Group F and could not be separated when they locked horns in their opening fixture at the Al Bayt Stadium — with the game finishing 0-0.
Croatia saw the lion's share of possession that day but were unable to penetrate in the final third — a recurring issue for them at this World Cup, save for their 4-1 rout of Canada.
The lack of a quality centre forward is the most glaring weakness in an otherwise well-rounded squad.
And breaking down this Morocco side is no easy task. Aside from their 2-0 defeat to France, they have only conceded once at this World Cup — an own goal versus Canada.
Another resolute performance from the Atlas Lions' defence could decide a likely closely-fought contest.
Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic was hurting after his side were beaten 3-0 in the last four — his men had been determined to repeat their achievements at Russia 2018 by reaching the final.
He said: "Congratulations to Argentina on the victory and for reaching the final.
"All we have to do is pull ourselves together, hold our heads up and fight for third place."
Morocco coach Walid Regragui, on the other hand, was well aware of the magnitude of his side's achievement — he admitted his players had run out of gas after a marvellous effort.
Regragui, 47, said: "This was one step too far — not in terms of quality of tactics but physically. We had too many players at 60-70%.
"The whole world is proud of this Moroccan team. We showed desire and played hard."
The team that can bounce back best from their midweek defeat will surely hold the psychological edge in Saturday's encounter.
Croatia and Morocco boast two of the strongest midfields at the World Cup and it is difficult to judge who will exert their dominance this time around.
Both sides usually field a three-man engine room — Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic will be expected to face off against Sofyan Amrabat, Azzedine Ounahi and Selim Amallah.
Dalic's outfit are more comfortable in possession — they have completed more passes and taken more touches than the Atlas Lions at the tournament.
It is Morocco, however, who have shown more bite — winning more tackles and interceptions as well as allowing fewer shots on goal.
Experience against energy
Breaking that midfield battle down further, it is clear that the key duel is between Modric and Amrabat.
Both are players at different stages of their careers — the former is considered one of the greatest midfielders to have ever played the game, while the latter is one of the breakout stars of the World Cup.
They play different roles, too. Amrabat — of Italian outfit Fiorentina — sits in front of Morocco's defence and anchors their midfield. He is perceptive and strong in the challenge.
Real Madrid maestro Modric is a wizard who orchestrates their attack. Few are able to use the ball as effectively and decisively as the 37-year-old.
The wide areas will also be a key battleground.
Croatia's full-backs Josip Juranovic and Borna Sosa combine well with Mario Pasalic and Ivan Perisic, who are pushed further up the field.
Morocco also make use of the flanks when building attacks. Right-back Achraf Hakimi has been one of the World Cup's top performers, while Noussair Mazraoui is competent on the left.
Further forward, the Atlas Lions boast Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal — two players who, like Pasalic and Perisic, work in tandem with the full-backs behind them.
However, both Juranovic and Mazraoui are injury doubts, with Regragui admitting Mazraoui is one of many injury concerns.
He said: "We have a lot of players injured, we’re on our last legs.
"We want to win but I also want to allow players who haven’t played to go out there and show what they can do. We’re going to try to win but I have a lot of players who need to recover."
Whichever side can overcome their personnel changes to maintain fluency on the flanks and in the centre of the park will be the likely victors.