The stage is set for the third-place finishers to lock horns at the Khalifa International Stadium on the 17th of December.
One game away from being on the podium with the 1st and 2nd place finishers, Croatia and Morocco both have the chance to take it.
Third-place playoffs usually offer a great game, boasting a record of only one tie after 90 minutes among the 19 World Cup campaigns.
But teams and fans usually don’t want to participate in this match as they don’t intend on it after qualifying in the last four.
Less than 36 hours after the semi-final against France, Moroccan coach Walid Regragui stated,
“The third-place match will be hard for us, especially mentally. We have a lot of injuries, and we are exhausted after this match.”
Echoing Regragui’s sentiments, Matteo Kovacic of Croatia also stated that playing in the third-place playoffs wasn’t the target when they made it into the semi-finals.
“I am in two minds”, stated Regragui when asked about potential changes in the lineup.
Croatian manager Zlatko Dalic also said that it would be up to Modric to decide whether he wants to be featured in the match on Saturday.
Even after their reluctance, both managers would very much like a podium finish in the tournament.
During the 2018 Russian World Cup, former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho described the third-place match as “the final of losers”.
“In my opinion, this is a game that doesn’t make sense. I think players, managers, even fans after losing the semi-final they just desrve to go home and in the professional case to have rest and prepare for the next season.
Nobody likes to play in the final of losers. But when you have to, you have to do it in a positive way.”
Echoing similar sentiments back in 2014, the Roma manager had to say,
“You lose a semi-final, you want to go home and cry or you want to go home and get your wife and kids and go for a holiday. You don’t want to play.
You go to the competition to win. You don’t go there to finish 3rd or 4th.
I’ve lost the Champions League semi-finals. I don’t imagine, a few days later, that I could play against the other losers.
The guys at Wimbledon, when they lose a semi-final, after 5 hours of tennis, they don’t go to play for the 3rd place.”