Morocco vs. Croatia FIFA World Cup Matchday 4: Will Youth Triumph Over Experience?

hakim ziyech morocco midfielder world cup practice
Morocco’s midfielder Hakim Ziyech attends a training session at Al Duhail SC in Doha. Fadel Senna/AFP

Today we look at Match Day 4 of the World Cup 2022, when the experience of the Croatian team is pitted against the youthful potential of Morocco. They are in Group F with Belgium and Canada and avoiding defeat could be paramount in the psyche of both sides.

Morocco vs. Croatia

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 – 05:00 AM at Al Bayt Stadium

Morocco Team Stats and Analysis

Since the 2020 African Cup of Nations event, Morocco has won 22 of their 30 internationals, only once losing in 90-minutes play and that was a friendly against the U.S.A. in June. Morocco has never won their opening match of a World Cup final stages.

Manager Walid Regragui is new to the job, only being in charge since September but he was a popular choice with the fans. This was likely due to his reputation for producing well-organized teams.

Currently, Morocco is ranked #22 in the FIFA rankings. Morocco boasts a 100% record from qualifying for the World Cup, eventually securing their World Cup berth with a playoff win over DR Congo, only conceding one goal in the whole process.

The Stars of the Team

The spine of the Moroccan team has a solid experienced look with Seville regulars, goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, and forward Youssef En-Nesyri being mainstays, while Hakim Ziyech is back in the Chelsea fold under the tutelage of Graham Potter.

Undoubtedly, the star of the Moroccan team is Achraf Hakimi, a full-back and a regular starter for Paris Saint-Germain, while there was a big move in the summer for Noussair Mazraoui, who joined Bayern Munich from Ajax.

How Can Morocco Improve From the Last World Cup?

If Morocco is to improve from the Russian World Cup showing, they will need to put to good use the experience gained when they were unlucky, losing to Iran 1-0 despite comprehensively outplaying them.

That continued with impressive displays against Portugal and Spain when Spain only managed a 2-2 draw with a stoppage-time equalizer. Scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem with two gifted playmakers in the attacking third, Sofiane Boufal, formerly of Southampton, and Queens Park Rangers starlet, Ilias Chair.

Morocco has a young exciting team who could be reaching their peak if they put to good use their experience from the last World Cup.

Croatia Team Stats and Analysis

Qualifying wasn’t as easy as perhaps you would expect for the 2018 runners-up, when Croatia outlasted Russia by one point but only lost one match from ten in the process.

Following World Cup qualifying, Croatia has only lost one match in 90-minutes play from their last eighteen, and they showed their class recently when topping their Nations League group that had France and Denmark as competitors.

Croatia is currently #12 on the FIFA rankings.

Croatia’s Performance in 2018

For the last few World Cups, Croatia has been known as one of the most talented teams full of experienced players. In fact, they have seven squad players with 70+ caps. Five of the eleven starters in the World Cup final remain in the squad led by Captain and talisman Luka Modric.

The lack of goals for their players in recent months is a little bit of a worry for Croatia, with Marko Livaja scoring eleven and Bruno Petkovic eight in their home Croatian league, but they have no other players with more than four goals this season.

What to Expect From This Game

I like youth to triumph over experience in this Matchday 4 encounter when Croatia crosses swords with Morocco.

As discussed, Morocco gained huge respect in the soccer world from their 2018 World Cup showing that saw them fundamentally outplay leading lights Spain and Portugal.

Big-time experience of World Cup football was gained in the process, so now four years later on, they will be determined to not make the same late errors in games. Soccer fans respect that Morocco is an emerging nation of World Soccer and this match is the perfect one to announce their arrival on the World stage.

Croatia is full of World-class soccer players too, but age is against them, which in the hot temperatures expected in Qatar could be a significant negative. This could be exposed by the talented Morocco team, if the African side keeps the pressure up for the full 90-minutes.

The Picks

My plan is to have two bets on this game. Firstly, a healthy stake on Morocco Double Chance at -125 with Bet365, which means we have both the draw and Moroccan win onside, because, as I mentioned earlier, neither side will want to lose this match.

Combine that with a smaller play on Morocco draw no bet with Unibet at +175.

Soccer Pick: Morocco – Double Chance (-125) at Bet365

Soccer Pick: Morocco – Draw no Bet (+175) at Unibet