Morocco and Croatia separated on a parity score (0-0). The outgoing vice-world champions seemed out of ideas against the Atlas Lions who could even have won.
These Atlas Lions have some bite. Morocco got the draw against Croatia (0-0) for their first match in Group F. They held off the aging vice-champions of 2018 and could have won with more success.
Like the day before during Tunisia – Denmark, the Maghreb team of the day is at home in an Al-Bayt stadium totally committed to its cause. In the crowd, many Franco-Moroccans who chained the match of the French team the day before, 70 km south of the city of Al-Khor, with this one to encourage their players.
Croatia can strike at any time
Enough to give confidence to Morocco, which is gradually taking control of the debates, in particular thanks to Boufal and Hakimi. Indeed, faced with Croats grouped in the axis, the Atlas Lions try to sneak in from the sides. Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic is forced to bustle near his left post to block a center from the Parisian side deflected by a defender (14e).
But Croatia remind that it can be dangerous at any time. On an error by Moroccan midfielder Amallah, Perisic intercepts a pass and tries his luck from 30m in front of goal. His shot goes just above the bar of Bounou (17e).
Following a sole from Modric, the Atlas Lions obtain a very good free kick, in the axis, at 25 m. Ziyech tries his luck but sends the ball into the wall (20e). On the counter-attack, the Croats quickly project themselves forward. The Moroccan defense removes the ball from Vasic’s feet at the last moment (21e). A sequence that illustrates the face of the match: Moroccans on the initiative, especially on the right side of Ziyech and Hakimi, but Croats capable of seizing all opportunities with quick transitions.
Croatia, however, passes the second in the last minutes of the first period. Barely seconds after an outing full of authority on the outskirts of his area, Bounou again proved to be decisive. He pulls out a world-class save on a point-blank shot from Vlasic (45e+1). Then Modric sends a powerful shot that goes over the crossbar (45e+2).
Unusual scene on the return from the locker room, the kick-off is postponed due to a delay from Amrabat. The player runs out of the entrance hall under the furious gaze of coach Walid Regragui.
Boufal launches hostilities by taking his chance at the entrance to the Croatian area. His shot is blocked by Lovren. Mazraoui takes the lead but Livakovic is there (51e). In continuity, Hakimi pushes back in extremis a dangerous center for a corner (52e). On the set piece, Bounou clears with his arm (53e).
Hakimi gives them back their coin on a free kick. The PSG defender strikes hard and forces Livakovic to ward off the danger with both fists (65e). Modric responds by brushing a perfect cross on a Croatian set piece which forces En-Nesyri to clear for a corner (70e).
As in the first period, Croatia accelerates towards the end. But despite the battering of Modric or Gvardiol, the Moroccans hold on to bring back their first point of the competition, already equaling their total of 2018. A good omen for the future as the draw placed them in one of the groups the highest with, in addition to Croatia, Belgium and Canada.
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