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Wednesday, 23 November 2022 20:58

Morocco 0-0 Croatia: 3 Things We Learned From World Cup Stalemate Featured

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Morocco’s organisation and energy has set the tone for their World Cup campaign after they earned a deserved point in a goalless draw with Croatia on Wednesday - the third of the tournament and in the space of 24 hours.

 

The North Africans gave a good account of themselves in their Group F opener and they certainly gave the 2018 runners-up more of a contest than some were anticipating. Their impressive start to life under manager Walid Regragui has also continued with this positive result as he is still yet to taste defeat or concede a single goal after four matches in charge.

Here are three things we learned.

Nayef Aguerd was the brightest Moroccan spark

Morocco know what they are good at and they play to their strengths. Their defensive spark against Croatia came from West Ham’s Ayef Aguerd, and while he doesn’t grab too much attention, he can be a joy to watch; he is bringing his quality onto the biggest stage and making a real name for himself. Aguerd was commanding and disciplined when he had to deal with Croatia’s attackers.

Croatia lacked the quality to overrun him, and he will face bigger tests as the tournament progresses, but he has certainly been their most consistent player over the past games for the Atlas Lions.

Walid Regragui’s style is slowly taking shape

Completely altering the approach, a national side employs takes a lot of time. It's not like club football where you can work with the players every day to hammer home your ideas, as the international breaks are few and far between, let alone short.

Keen to reimagine the outlook of the Ghana team, a substantial handful of patience is required. Four matches into Regragui’s reign, the side have yet to lose a game or concede a goal - but the signs are there that the players are gradually coming to terms with his philosophy and tactics. While one can't avoid the presence of quality throughout the team, embedding the philosophy into the players will at least put them on the right track. 

Players such as Romain Saiss and Ayef Aguerd were clearly onboard with the progressive, back-to-front style and look well-placed to improve gradually with this brand of football. Some of the old habits still remain - diagonal crosses for Youssef En-Neysri to run on to too often - but as steady as the progress is, it remains progress nonetheless.

Leggy Luka Modric Fails To Make An Impression

It wasn’t all good news for Croatia this afternoon with Luka Modric failing to make a meaningful impact.

Up against a hard-working Moroccan midfield, the Real Madrid man failed to find any space but perhaps more worryingly, he failed to make any impact in the area. Famed for his ability to pop-up with a crucial goal, those late runs into the penalty box which has become his trademark have all but dried up recently, and that is a major concern for Zlatko Dalic. The midfielder putting in a shift, but does he need a rest? His set-pieces were good, though.

 

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