The penultimate match of the World Cup was played tonight, with one set of medals handed out at the end of it.
Third-Place Play-Off: Croatia vs Morocco
The third-place play-off (also known as the bronze final) between Croatia and Morocco was the match everyone was made to watch today. However, other than the competitors and their supporters, no one is ever greatly invested in the game.
Unlike many such games of the past, both teams fielded relatively strong line-ups, and went for it right from the get-go. That led to quite an exciting start, with two set-piece goals scored within the first 10 minutes.
First, it was Joško Gvardiol who sent a powerful header to the back of the net after a nicely worked free-kick routine. A couple of minutes later, Achraf Dari turned in a deflected free-kick delivery from close range.
Croatia were the side that looked better for the rest of the first half, and they eventually retook the lead with just a few minutes left for the half-time break.
After some Morocco were unable to clear their lines, the ball broke for Mislav Oršić on the left of the box and he curled his first-time effort straight into the top corner next to the far post.
There was not a lot of goalmouth action in the second half but both sides did create some good chances and appealed for a fair few penalties, leading to the referee coming under a bit of pressure from the players, especially the Moroccans.
Neither he nor VAR decided to give anything, though, so the match ended in a narrow Croatian victory after a much better game than the two sides’ goalless group opener back in November.
At full-time, many of the Croatian players flocked to their captain Luka Modrić, who has likely played his last World Cup game at 37 years of age.
If he is departing this stage, he will do so as the man with the most international appearances for Croatia. He will also have two World Cup medals to show for his work, one silver and one bronze.
👀 Looking Ahead
Unless you’ve been living under a rock and the only thing you’ve read in the last month is this, you’ll know that the World Cup final is tomorrow. Everyone is looking forward to it, and we’ve put out a tactical preview and a selection of players to watch in the match.
Stats courtesy Opta via FotMob.
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