Croatia vs Morocco prediction: How will World Cup third-place play-off play out?

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Sportem
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Croatia fell short of a stunning, second straight run to the World Cup final this week, while ultimate underdogs Morocco also ran out of magic in the semi-finals. Now, the nations meet in the third-place play-off.

Croatia, runners-up to France at Russia 2018, were outplayed in a 3-0 defeat by Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Tuesday, before Wednesday saw Morocco beaten 2-0 by the defending champions.

Nevertheless, Morocco have secured their place in history as the World Cup’s first ever African semi-finalists, and they still have the chance to round out their Qatar campaign with a win.

Croatia, however, will be out to finish on a positive note themselves, three weeks after drawing 0-0 with the Atlas Lions in the group stage.

Here’s all you need to know.

When is it?

The third-place play-off will kick off at 3pm GMT (6pm local time) on Saturday 17 December.

The fixture is set to take place at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan.

How can I watch it?

Croatia vs Morocco will air live on BBC One in the UK, and it will stream live on the broadcaster’s iPlayer website and app.

What is the team news?

Marcelo Brozovic was forced off due to injury during Croatia’s clash with Argentina, and the midfielder is an injury doubt here. The same can be said of centre back Josep Gvardiol, who was not at full health for that fixture and may be rested here to avoid further injury.

Romain Saiss (left) was forced off injured for Morocco against France

(REUTERS)

For Morocco, three players were risked in the loss to France despite doubts over their fitness, though Nayef Aguerd actually dropped out just before kick-off, and fellow defenders Romain Saiss and Noussair Mazraoui could not complete the game. As such, all three are expected to miss out here.

Predicted line-ups

Croatia XI: Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Sutalo, Sosa; Modric, Jakic, Kovacic; Vlasic, Kramaric, Perisic

Morocco XI: Bounou; Hakimi, El-Yamiq, Dari, Attiyat Allah; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal

Odds

Croatia – 11/8

Morocco – 2/1

Draw – 12/5

Via Betfair.

Prediction

As good as Morocco were against France, they seemed about 30 per cent off their best due to a combination of fatigue and injuries. Furthermore, a near-full strength Croatia side will have had an extra day to recover from their semi-final by the time this game takes place. Unfortunately for fans of the ultimate underdogs, Morocco might just have used up all of their magic at this tournament. Croatia 1-0 Morocco.

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