Morocco vs. Croatia Predictions, Picks, Odds (12/17/22)

It’s one of the more unique matches in major sporting events- both sides have to shake off the crushing disappointment of coming up just short of a World Cup final, and try their best to represent their countries one more time. In this case, it’s Croatia, who got blown out by Argentina in a failed attempt to make it back to the final, after doing so in 2018, and Morocco, who’s historic run came to a halt after a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful effort against defending champions France. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks as these two underdog nations duke it out for the bronze medal.

Morocco vs. Croatia Prediction & Pick

Both of these teams were seen as outsiders when it came to projecting a champion, but both also showed throughout the tournament that they had a legitimate chance to come out on top. So they’ll both be understandably heartbroken after coming so close to making history as their nation’s first winning side, but they’ll also be motivated to come home with at least a medal. Croatia obviously got farther than this last time out but for Morocco, this would still be a serious piece of history, as they could become the first African team to ever finish in third place at the World Cup. The issue for Morocco here is health; a lot of players have been fighting through injuries of varying seriousness; it’s hard to know who may or may not be available for a game that surely means something, but does not hold the promise of advancing towards World Champion status. In this match, all eyes will be on Luka Modric; surely the greatest Croatian player of all time, he was the face of this period of unprecedented success for his nation, and his teammates will do everything in their power to give him a befitting sendoff.

Betting this match can be a little strange; it’s sort of like college (American) football bowl season, where there’s silverware on the table (or bronzeware, I suppose) but the championship is out of reach. That being said, I think there’s some really good value on the table, in both the moneyline and the goalscoring total. Let’s start with the latter- I have genuinely no idea why the over is favored after Morocco have spent all tournament dominating with their defense, and both teams failed to score in their semifinals. Mix in the element that this is a game where punches might be relatively pulled, and I’d say the under is pretty good value at even money. For the moneyline, the draw is way too enticing to leave behind as the least-favored leg of the three. Croatia are overtime addicts, and Morocco also are no strangers to matches decided past 90 minutes; if they’re not able to find a goal and go ahead, they’ll be more than content to let this thing go the distance.

Morocco vs. Croatia Odds

Vegas sees this as one of the more even matches of the whole tournament, with all three ends of the moneyline in the plus. Croatia are favored at +130, Morocco underdogs at +210, and the 90-minute draw is +250. Regarding goalscoring, over 2.5 is a slight favorite at -120.

Key Matchups

Morocco Attack vs. Croatia Defense

All tournament long, we’ve been talking about the outstanding Moroccan defense, but I don’t think they’ll be the deciding factor in this one; they shouldn’t be too overwhelmed by a solid but not outstanding Croatia attack. The Moroccan front line actually looked quite lively at times against France, even if they were held scoreless; they had several moments of legitimate danger throughout the match, and produced 13 total shots. The literal centerpiece of the group has been striker Youssef En-Nesyri, scorer of the greatest goal in Moroccan history, his lovely winning header against Portugal. Unfortunately, the Sevilla man was shut down against France, but only due to a truly outstanding game from Ibrahima Konaté. The figurative centerpiece of this attack plays on the right wing, and that would be Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, whose return to international football is one of the biggest reasons his team is even here. Lastly, on the left has been Sofiane Boufal, who has generally been a lively, even if not statistically productive player, but also had a tough outing against France.

They’ll be up against a Croatia defense that has put up some solid performances, but got completely outclassed against Argentina. Centre-back Josko Gvardiol of RB Leipzig (for the moment) has been making a name for himself as one of the best defenders in the World, and will be on the shortlist for young player of the tournament. He’s joined by the more veteran Dejan Lovren, one of the mainstays from the 2018 side, who has had something of a renaissance in this World Cup. The fullbacks are Borna Sosa and Josip Juranovic, not as talented as the central duo, and they were eviscerated by Messi, Alvarez and more. Obviously this Morocco attack is not quite as potent, but these two create a good opportunity for Ziyech down the wing- they’ll have to be at their best to limit him. Of course, behind it all is rising star goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, who did make some tough saves against Argentina as he has all tournament, but ultimately it was too much; we’ll see how many times he’s tested by Morocco.

The Midfield Battle

There’s been stars up and down both of these lineups who have won the hearts and admiration of the World, but I’d argue that amongst outfield players, each team’s most memorable performance has come from a midfielder. On the Moroccan side, that would be Sofyan Amrabat, a previously little-known Fiorentina player who over the course of this past month or so has turned himself into a major name in the footballing World. He was joined just by Azzedine Ounahi to start the game against France, as Morocco switched formations, but as they went down and changed shapes again, Selim Amallah was brought back into the fold. This group is not one made up of huge names, and they’re not always the most talented group on the pitch, but they play responsibly and give as much effort as anyone in the sport, and it paid off against France. After two games in the 20s, the Atlas Lions possessed 60% of the ball against France. Sure, this was due in part to Les Bleus going up early and sitting back, but some amount of it was due to improved performance from members of this group.

I probably don’t even have to say it but the star midfielder for Croatia was obviously Luka Modric. What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about the man who’s been the engine of overperforming Croatian teams, European and Spanish championship sides on Real Madrid, and of course, one of the relatively few central midfielders to lift the Ballon D’Or in this modern era? This is surely his international football curtain call, and I’m certain beyond a doubt that he’s going to try to go out with another masterful, technical performance. He’s been joined by a couple of other big-club stalwarts, Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan; alongside modric, these players have been vital in winning and keeping possession, particularly Brozovic in his central role. Croatia’s midfield is their greatest strength, and victory in this, possibly the last of their “golden generation,” is probably reliant on the midfield group having a strong performance.

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

Hot Soccer Articles Stories