Football World Cup Qatar, Day 4: Tough kick at the start: Croatia and Morocco separate goalless

Vice world champions Croatia have not yet lived up to their title ambitions at the World Cup in Qatar with a stuttering start.

Football World Cup Qatar, Day 4: Tough kick at the start: Croatia and Morocco separate goalless

Vice world champions Croatia have not yet lived up to their title ambitions at the World Cup in Qatar with a stuttering start. Superstar Luka Modric's team couldn't get past a 0-0 draw against Morocco in Al-Khour on Wednesday. The Croatians have to improve in the next group games against Canada and co-favorite Belgium, otherwise there is a risk of losing the preliminary round for the fourth time in their sixth final round.

Outsiders Morocco can - also thanks to the many fans behind them - hope for more surprises. It is questionable whether Bayern professional Noussair Mazraoui can play in the next few games. The full-back apparently injured his hip in a header and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher.

The world title is a reason to resign, Modric had hinted before the start of the World Cup. Until then, the Croatian team still have a good deal of work to do. Although the exceptional 37-year-old footballer tried to stimulate his team's game with his fine technique and the millimeter-precise passes, in front of 59,407 spectators the Croatians lacked penetrating power against the robust defense of the Moroccans. Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric also barely appeared and was substituted in the second half.

Nikola Vlasic had the best chance in the first half shortly before the break, but after a pass from Stuttgart's Borna Sosa, the attacker failed from close range to Morocco's keeper Bono (45'). In addition to Sosa and Kramaric, Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol, who played with a mask because of his broken nose, was also in the Croatian starting eleven. Two long-range shots from ex-Bayern player Ivan Perisic (16') and Modric (45') also posed a little danger.

The distribution of roles was different in the ranks. More than 20,000 Moroccan fans gave their team a home game. Every attempted attack was loudly accompanied. All too often, however, the North Africans failed to score goals. Youssef En-Nesyri (18') narrowly missed a cross from Chelsea attacker Hakim Ziyech. In the second round, Mazraoui appeared dangerously in front of the goal. After his header he had to go down injured. In addition, the former Dortmund player Achraf Hakimi (65th) tested the Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic with a powerful free kick.

In the middle of the second half, the Croatians increased the pressure and created some tricky situations. But the Moroccans always had one leg in between, which increasingly annoyed Modric.

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