Al Khor: Croatia’s World Cup campaign got off to a stuttering start with a 0-0 draw against Morocco on Wednesday as the 2018 runners-up lacked the team punch that came so close in Russia.
Chances were slim at the Al Bayt Stadium as a close Group F game produced little action at the goal mouth and ended in their third goalless draw in nine World Cup games so far.
There were glimpses of a goal for both teams, with Nikola Vlasic closing in on Croatia late in the first half, while Noussair Mazraoui headed in for Morocco.
Croatia will now turn their attention to their match against Canada on Sunday, when Morocco takes on Belgium.
Unsurprisingly, Croatia’s greatest moments depended on Luka Modric, given the freedom of the park, effortlessly floating back and forth, with traditional soccer midfield roles seemingly not applying to the Croatia captain.
One minute he was patrolling in front of their back four, the next hanging on Andrej Kramaric’s shoulder up front, but always looking to open up the North Africans, whether he was floating at right back or hunting further forward.
Morocco looked mainly to Hakim Ziyech for inspiration and the Chelsea winger, called up to the squad after the appointment of manager Walid Regragui, was their most dangerous attacking point in the early stages, although his good work did not have a final result.
While the encounter was light on action, it was at least very intense, as both sides battled for supremacy in midfield, but the first half ended with neither goal truly threatened until the closing moments when Yassine Bounou saved Vlasic’s low effort.