Morocco held Croatia to a goalless draw in their opening match of the World Cup.
The first period was not a classic as defences were on top for large periods with the game seeing its first shot on target just minutes before half-time when Nikola Vlasic forced Bono to make a good save.
Things improved after the break but it remained a game of few chances. Bono again made a few good stops to keep it goalless, while Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui had the best chances for Morocco.
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The North African team made life difficult for the runners-up in 2018 due to their excellent pressing but despite being the better side it was Croatia that had the better chances overall.
The other teams in Group F, Belgium and Canada, meet later on Wednesday in what looks like it will be a closely contested group.
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TALKING POINT – NOT THE SAME CROATIA
Croatia have lost quite a few key players from the side that made the final back in 2018 and with the likes of Luka Modric older they just don’t seem the same team. Today, they lacked any spark and really struggled to progress the ball between the thirds and get bodies up the pitch. Croatia were solid defensively but lacked that cutting edge and their fans will be disappointed.
It was a scrappy game, Morocco fought well and pressed intelligently, all going as a team and giving the Croatian midfield little time on the ball. They look very tough to break down and have quality going forward, but nothing clicked as the two teams neutralised each other.
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PLAYER OF THE MATCH – SOFYAN AMRABAT (MOROCCO)
The Moroccan midfielder was energetic in midfield and broke up the play well. He played at the base of the team’s midfield three and put in a number of tackles that prevented Croatia getting forward. He was vital in the press and was also good in possession helping the Moroccan team tick. Strangely, he nearly missed the start of the second half as he kept everyone waiting coming out the tunnel a minute late with the referee noticing there was just 10 men in red on the pitch.
MOROCCO: Bono 8, Hakimi 7, Aguerd 8, Saiss 8, Mazraoui 6, Ounahi 6, Amrabat 8, Amallah 7, Ziyech 7, Boufal 5, En-Nesyri 5. Subs: Attia Allah 7, Ezzalzouli 6, Hamdallah 6, Sabiri 6
CROATIA: Livakovic 7, Juranovic 7, Lovren 6, Gvardiol 6, Sosa 6, Brozovic 6, Kovacic 6, Modric 6, Vlasic 6, Perisic 5, Kramaric 5. Subs: Pasalic 6, Livaja 5, Majer 6, Orsic 6.
45' SAVE (BONO) - Croatia build nicely. Bono flies out of goal and heads it clear but it goes back to Croatia as they sustain the attack. Sosa puts a low cross in and Vlasic gets in front of the defender but his shot is smothered well by the Sevilla goalkeeper. That is the first shot on target of the match. Finally!
53' SAVE (BONO) - Corner swung in from Modric and Perisic flicks it on at the near post. Bono jumps out of goal to tip it away from the sliding in Lovren. Brave goalkeeping.
64' SAVE (LIVAKOVIC) - Free-kick to Morocco. Ziyech taps it to one side and Hakimi blasts it at goal. It's travelling at incredible speed, swirling in the air and Livakovic palms the shot away.
- There have been more 0-0 draws (3) in the World Cup 2022 so far than there was in the entirety of the 2018 tournament (1).
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