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No breakthrough in even stalemate between Morocco and Croatia

One of the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s “Groups of Death” kicked off on Wednesday at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar with a scoreless draw between Morocco and Croatia opening up action in Group F. Clear opportunities were scarce for both teams but Morocco’s Atlas Lions will be satisfied with a point from their opening match ahead of Sunday’s anticipated matchup against group favorites Belgium. Croatian supporters will be demanding more in their next match against Canada.

Morocco manager Walid Regragui and his side adopted a patient approach and dared Croatia to break the Atlas Lions defense down, something the 2018 World Cup finalists mostly failed to achieve. Croatia came closest to scoring in the first half with Ivan Perišić intercepting a dreadful Selim Amallah pass before firing over from distance in the 16th minute. Atlas Lions goalkeeper Yassine Bounou showed his quality in first half stoppage time by coming up with an excellent reaction save on Nikola Vlašić to keep the match scoreless.

The favorites came under a bit more pressure from the Atlas Lions in the second half. A 51st minute strike from Sofiane Boufal took a deflection and bounced towards the Croatian goal where left back Noussair Mazraoui got a diving header on target that was well saved by keeper Dominik Livaković. Morocco star right back Achraf Hakimi forced Livaković into action again in the 65th minute with a well struck free kick and the Dinamo Zagreb shot stopper did well to punch away.

Croatia threatened on a couple more occasions in the second half but alert defending and goalkeeping from Bounou continued to frustrate the European side. Moroccan defensive midfielder Sofyan Amrabat was the stand out player for the Atlas Lions throughout and now Regragui’s team will need to find a way to be more dangerous on the attacking end against Belgium and Canada.


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