Saturday, December 17, at the expense of Morocco (2-1). The 2018 Golden Ball, Luka Modric, whose last World Cup is, will not stay on a defeat. The fear that neither team was really motivated was real, but the Croatian metronome was treated to a less bland farewell than expected.
The Khalifa stadium was full (44,137 spectators) and its stands were clearly tending towards red. Many Moroccan supporters, who one would have thought dejected, wanted to attend the last chapter of the exceptional adventure of their selection. Forty-five minutes before the entry of the players on the lawn, chants resounded in the long corridors of the yellow line of the Qatari metro. Croatian fans tried to respond by chanting the name of their country “Hrvatska”, but the standoff was already lost. On the ground, nothing was yet decided.
Gvardiol in Van Persie mode
From the start, the evening did not take the direction of the first confrontation between the two teams in Qatar, on November 23, which ended in a goalless draw (0-0). Players who didn’t want to stay on a bitter last note wanted to take their second chance. Josko Gvardiol took just six minutes to put his nervousness against Lionel Messi in the semi-finals in the background. The Croatian defender from Leipzig scored with a remote-controlled diving header, after a clever combination from a free kick (7th). Less than two minutes later, Achraf Dari, substitute defender with little verve against France, also went there with his head following a free kick, which landed in the Croatian area (9th), to equalize.
But many of them wanted to seize this second chance, and Croatia concretized their domination just before the break thanks to Mislav Orsic (42nd), holder for the first time in the competition. He was the last to be served. There was a thrill on a point-blank shot from Youssef En-Nesyri on the Moroccan side (75th), but the latter had already been spoiled with two goals (against Canada, then Portugal). And then, Dominik Livakovic still had a fabulous save in stock, the only one he had to finally release, at the end of this evening with a logical outcome.