Croatia has started their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a 0-0 draw against Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday.
Coach Zlatko Dalić made no surprises with his starting line-up, starting Andrej Kramarić in the no.9 role and the experienced Dejan Lovren at centre back ahead of Josip Šutalo.
Morocco, who have 14 of their squad born outside of the country, looked like they done their homework and were physical in the opening stages, doing a good job in closing Croatia down by pressing high.
The midfield trio of Luka Modrić, Marcelo Brozović and Marcelo Brozović found it difficult playing out from the back as they like to do.
Mistakes from Morocco opened up some half chances for Croatia, but a lack of numbers forward in attack saw those chances break down.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 23, 2022
Croatia had the better of the chances in the first half. First Ivan Perišić went close with a long-range shot that just sailed over the bar.
Nikola Vlašić had the best chance but his poke from inside the six-yard box was well saved. Modrić then had an attempt go over the bar just before the break.
Dalić introduced Mario Pašalić in place of Vlašić at the start of the second half but as they did in the first half, Morocco made sure Croatia could not have time on the ball and found it easy nullifying any potential attacks.
Modrić, who had one of his more quieter games in a Croatia shirt, tried in spurts to get things going but his side lacked movement and urgency in attack.
Marko Livaja came on for Kramarić and Lovro Majer for Kovačić as they searched for a winner but there would be no way through and Croatia would have to settle for a point.
“It was a tough match, especially first half. The last 10-15 minutes of the first half we started to play better. We were better in second half and it is a shame we couldn’t score,” captain Modrić said after the match, before adding.
“We were the better side but we had to open them up more. We have two games more now to advance from the group.”
Croatia faces Canada next on Sunday before meeting Belgium in their final group match on 1 December.