Morocco’s Predicted XI to face Croatia: Dari, El Yamiq at centre-back, Attiyat-Allah over Mazraoui?

Morocco African Great.jfif Morocco will face Croatia tonight

Sat, 17 Dec 2022 Source: goal.com

Morocco have an opportunity to end their fairytale World Cup run with the consolation prize of a bronze medal as they face Croatia in the third-place playoff on Saturday.

The Atlas Lions have won many people’s hearts with their fearlessness, tenacity and defensive solidity and while they face what coach Walid Regragui has described as ‘worst game,’ they have to be ready for the contest at Khalifa International Stadium.

It’s the second meeting between the two teams, having faced off on matchday one, a match that ended in a barren draw, but with fatigue and the disappointment of missing out on the final, the tactical approach is likely to be different.

Regragui’s charges have been decimated by injuries heading into the match and a number of changes especially, in defence, will be made. GOAL predicts how Morocco will line up against Croatia.

Goalkeeper: Yassine Bounou

Bounou has played in all but one of Morocco’s six games and given he is in contention for the Goalkeeper of the tournament award, he will be the first name on the team sheet on Saturday.

The 31-year-old has been largely responsible for Morocco’s historic ruin to the semi-finals, pulling off great saves especially against Spain and Portugal in the round of 16 and quarter-final, as he kept three clean sheets with no opposition player scoring past him until the defeat to France.

Bounou will be required to pull off one heroic act to help Morocco clinch the bronze medal against an opposition that he has already faced in Qatar.

Right-back: Achraf Hakimi

Another standout performer for Morocco, Hakimi has been ever present and only a late injury will prevent him from making it seven games out of seven.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender has offered Morocco more when going forward, given his knack for making overlapping runs and supplying crosses, while also kept away danger when his team was on the backfoot.

Hakimi’s ability to pick out passes from deep has seen him provide one assist and it might come in handy if the North Africans find themselves doing more defending than attacking on Saturday.

Centre-back: Achraf Dari

With Morocco’s first-choice centre-backs Romain Saiss and Nayef Aguerd injured, Dari will start his second straight match at the World Cup, having played 90 minutes against France and 34 off the bench against Portugal in the quarter-final.

Dari impressed against France with his combativeness and ability to win aerial duels, traits that will be needed in plenty, against the Croatia forwards who are also good at imposing themselves on defenders.

Centre-back: Jawad El Yamiq

El Yamiq was the beneficiary of Aguerd’s absence through injury, starting against Portugal and France, and is set for a third straight game at the heart of Morocco’s defence.

The Valladolid defender is good at tackling on the ground and in the air and will be the leader at the back in the absence of captain Saiss.

His passing range is also impressive and if Morocco need to launch attacks from deep, he will likely be the initiator.

Left-back: Yahia Attiyat-Allah

A battle for a starting berth at left-back is in the offing between Noussair Mazraoui and Yahia Attiyat-Allah but the latter is likely to edge it given how impressive he has been when given an opportunity.

Unlike Mazraoui, Attiyat-Allah likes to get forward more, getting in the box to try and score, as witnessed against Portugal when he played almost like a left winger.

It was from his cross that Youssef En-Nesyri scored Morocco’s winner in the contest and he also provided a lot going forward after replacing Mazraoui against France.

With Morocco likely to be more offensive against Croatia, Attiyat-Allah is more suited to such an approach and should be preferred ahead of the Bayern Munich fullback.

Central midfield: Sofyan Amrabat

Another ever present member of Morocco’s historic run in Qatar, the Fiorentina midfielder is the man who gets the Atlas Lions going, shielding the back four when out of possession and acting as the link between defence and attack.

Amrabat’s calmness, energy, passing range and tacking have been lauded and it will be an obvious choice for coach Walid Regragui against Croatia.

Central midfield: Selim Amallah

The Standard Liege midfielder played 90 minutes when Morocco faced Croatia on matchday one and while he has not finished a game since, he has proved to be a valuable and reliable partner for Amrabat in central midfield.

The 26-year-old provides cover for Amrabat whenever he makes forward runs while his tacking and ability to win aerial battles have also come in handy especially when defending set pieces.

Attacking midfield: Azzedine Ounahi

Another of the Class of 2022 who has impressed, Ounahi is already attracting interest from some of Europe’s big teams and it is not hard to see why.

The Angers midfielder’s tenacity, fearlessness and ability to play in pockets of space has seen him earn praise and he will definitely be in the starting XI against the 2018 finalists.

While he is yet to score or provide an assist, his vision and link-up play will be key to Morocco’s attacking moves on Saturday.

Right wing: Hakim Ziyech

The Chelsea winger has a goal and assist given he is the man that makes Morocco tick in the final third. Ziyech’s passes and crosses have been too difficult for opposition defenders to deal with and only poor finishing from his teammates has denied him more assists.

He has been kept quiet in the knockout round as his team did more defending than attacking but his ability to cut in on his stronger left-foot and get in behind the defence plus his deliveries from set pieces will be the weapons Morocco will rely on at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Left wing: Sofiane Boufal

Another one who is yet to score but has played a major role due to his work rate, the Angers forward has offered his team a lot offensively and defensively.

Boufal’s tendency to drop deep and win possession has helped take the pressure off the fullbacks and he also likes to carry the ball into the box before passing to teammates.

The 29-year-old is also never afraid to put in a foot in an attempt to win tackles, another trait that makes him one of Regragui’s favourites.

Striker: Youssef En-Nesyri

Morocco’s top scorer with two goals, the 25-year-old will want an opportunity to write the wrongs of Wednesday when he left the pitch with the unwanted statistic of having touched the ball only three times in 65 minutes.

The striker thrives when playing on the shoulders of the defenders, dragging the centre-backs to create space for his teammates while also being a nuisance in the air.

He may have been ineffective against France, when he was largely isolated upfront, but with good service, nothing will stop him from adding onto his tally on Saturday.

Source: goal.com
Related Articles: