The coach of Morocco, Walid Regragui, will remain as a great figure of the 2022 World Cup. Because he became the first coach to take a team from the African continent to the semi-finals, but also because the press conferences of the Franco-Moroccan did not have the sanitized taste found in his colleague Didier Deschamps and in so many others.
“For me, we are in the place of the idiot when we are third or fourth”, confided Regragui to journalists on the eve of playing in the small final of the World Cup. ” What I remember, he continuedit’s that we’re not in the World Cup final”the real one, the one that will oppose Argentina and France, Sunday, December 18, at the Lusail stadium.
Beaten respectively by the Argentinians (3-0) and the French (2-0) in the semi-finals of the tournament, the Croats and the Moroccans therefore found themselves to play a “consoling” which closed the loop of their Qatari adventure, since the two teams had played against each other when they entered the competition, in the first round, on November 23 (draw 0-0).
Two teams weakened by injuries
At the end of a meeting between two teams diminished by injuries, and visibly tested by their career, Croatia won this match 2-1 for third place, Saturday December 17, at the Khalifa international stadium, in Doha (Qatar ).
An almost anecdotal result for the Atlas Lions at the end of their historic journey. Fallers from Spain, in the round of 16, then from Portugal, in the quarters, after beating Belgium during the group stage, Achraf Hakimi, Hakim Ziyech and their partners also made the French, reigning world champions, suffer , in the semi-finals.
At the end of the match for third place, Walid Regragui remembered this time that his team had settled down at the big table: “ We are in the four best teams in the world.he testified at the end of the match at the microphone of TF1, congratulating his Croatian opponents, who “ deserve their third place.
Two goals from the start
This little final starts strong. The Croatian Josko Gvardiol advances masked… but not in the figurative sense. On a free kick kicked by the left leg of Lovro Majer, who plays for a club in Rennes, and deflected with a header by Ivan Perisic, the Croatian defender recognizable by his black mask places a magnificent diving header, too powerful for the Moroccan goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou (1-0, 7e).
But Morocco equalizes in stride on a new free kick, hit by Hakim Ziyech and deflected by Lovro Majer, this time unfortunate. Achraf Dari inherits the ball and spikes his header to deceive Dominik Livakovic (1-1, 9e).
The Croats go back on the attack, but Andrej Kramaric and Luka Modric stumble in turn on Bounou. If the end of the first period is a highlight for Walid Regragui’s men, a defensive error will be fatal to them just before the break.
Midfielder Bilal El Khannouss had the ball stolen in front of the area, Marko Livaja took the opportunity to shift Mislav Orsic to his left and Dinamo Zagreb winger rolled up a delicious ball that ended up in the opposite side netting (2-1 , 42e).
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The frustration of the Moroccans against the decisions of the referee is felt. Fatigue, too, for both teams. Deprived at kick-off of his right side Josip Juranovic and midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, Vatreni coach Zlatko Dalic has to deal with the injury of his striker Andrej Kramaric on the hour mark.
Morocco is no exception in this regard. While his defense was already decimated by the packages of captain Romain Saïss, Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui, Jawad El-Yamiq – hit in the thigh – also joined the infirmary during the second period. The Atlas Lions will end the meeting with a central hinge of fortune composed of Sofyan Amrabat and Badr Benoun.
“We would have liked to please our public until the end, but, honestly, the boys gave their all, until the last minute”believes Walid Regragui, in reference to this ultimate missed opportunity, a header from Youssef En-Nesyri, in the 6the minute of added time. A quarter of an hour earlier, the Moroccan striker had also lost his face-to-face with Dominik Livakovic.
Croatia still on the podium
Like his Moroccan counterpart, the Croatian goalkeeper left his mark on this tournament, becoming the hero of the penalty shootout won by the Vatreni against Brazil in the quarter-finals, a major feat of the World Cup. .
For the third time in post-Yugoslavian history, Croatia therefore finished on the podium of a World Cup. In 2018, the Vatreni took second place after their 4-2 defeat in the final against the Blues. In 1998, they had already finished third in the World Cup by beating the Netherlands. The score ? 2-1, as in this 2022 edition.
“The generation of 1998 had won the first medal for the national team. It was a great achievement, an important moment, because the world was getting to know Croatia.”recalled Zlatko Dalic before the match. “It’s a bronze medal but, for us, it looks like a gold medal”he savored after the victory.
For his part, playmaker Luka Modric, 37, announced that he would continue his international career at least until the final phase of the League of Nations in June 2023. “And then we’ll see what we do. I want to stay for the League of Nations”the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner told Croatian television HRT.
Small in size (the equivalent of the French region Grand Est) and its number of inhabitants (less than 4 million, according to the last census, in 2021), the Balkan country has proven that it is firmly anchored in the soccer card.
Our selection of articles on the 2022 World Cup
Find all our content on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, from November 20 to December 18.
- Know everything : The calendar, the results, the rankings, the “unofficial” guide to the 2022 World Cup
- Investigations: France-Qatar, a friendship full of resources; Award of the World Cup to Qatar: Sarkozy, Platini and the takeover of PSG at the heart of the French justice investigation; For the environment, an event at the critical stage
- Report : To the Mbappé-Giroud duo, France very grateful against Poland
- Editorials: The World Cup of excesses; FIFA at the stage of blindness
- Decryptions: The delicate speech of footballers on human rights; The reasons for the discomfort; A very political “World Cup”
- Reports: In the “engine room” of Qatar, where live the immigrant workers whom Doha does not want to see; In Qatar, a pan-Arab festival atmosphere; At the University of Dakar, “when Senegal plays, we forget all our problems”
- Grandstand (Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International) : “By calling to ‘focus on football’, Gianni Infantino is trying to exonerate FIFA from any responsibility”
- Portraits: Walid Regragui, the new signature of the Atlas Lions; Harry Maguire, a certain idea of English football
- Chronicle: “Changing the method of calculating additional time in a match is to take the risk of breaking the game”; “With video refereeing, the goals are conditional, the emotions too”
- Podcast : Ecology, human rights, corruption: why the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a problem
- Video : A “carbon neutral” World Cup? What lies behind Qatar’s untenable promises; For the first time, a match will be refereed by women
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