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LIVE BLOG: Fifa World Cup, Day 4 – Can Morocco beat the odds for Africa at the World Cup?

LIVE BLOG: Fifa World Cup, Day 4 – Can Morocco beat the odds for Africa at the World Cup?

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Welcome to day 4 of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. IOL Sport will bring you all the live updates on match days from the biggest sports event on the planet!


12pm: Morocco vs Croatia

Croatia went all the way to the final four years ago, ultimately losing to France in Russia. This has raised the profile of Croatia and they are regarded as a formidable team. Not many of the 2018 squad have managed to retain their places in the 2022 squad in Qatar.

Croatia will be the favourites because they have so much quality at both ends of the pitch. Morocco, however, shouldn’t be underestimated. Morocco struggles to score, so scoring should be low.

Despite the quality in their squad, Morocco are somewhat of an unknown quantity, and like Croatia, have shown terrific form in matches over the past few months. Morocco have also been in a goalscoring mood in matches this year.

Players to watch:

Morocco: Romain Saiss (centre-back), Achraf Hakimi (right-wingback), Sofyan Amrabat (midfielder)

Croatia: Ivan Perisic (winger/wingback), Marcelo Brozovic (central midfielder), Mario Pasalic (attacking midfielder)

Head-to-head record

In their only previous encounter, in the semi-finals of the 1996 Hassan II Trophy, Croatia prevailed 7-6 on penalties after the match ended 2-all.

LIVE BLOG: Fifa World Cup, Day 4 – Can Morocco beat the odds for Africa at the World Cup?

3pm: Germany v Japan

Germany are four-time World Cup winners (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014) and have reached at least the semi-finals at four of the five tournaments since the start of this century. That is more semi-final appearances than any other nation over this period.

Japan's Samurai Blue have plenty of experience on the global stage, appearing at a seventh straight finals tournament. However, they have never advanced to the second round at consecutive editions.

Japan finished behind Saudi Arabia in second place in their World Cup qualification campaign and have been inconsistent over the past year. The Asian giants slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Canada last week and will need to bounce back in this fixture.

Players to watch:

Germany: Manuel Neuer (goalkeeper), Antonio Rudiger (centre-back), Joshua Kimmich (defensive midfielder)

Japan: Takumi Minamino (forward), Daichi Kamada (attacking midfielder), Takefusa Kubo (attacking midfielder)

Head-to-head record

Germany and Japan have faced each other twice, both in friendlies. Germany won once and the other ended in a draw.

6pm: Spain v Costa Rica

Spain, the 2010 World Cup winners, remain one of the superpowers on the global stage. To date, they have qualified for 12 consecutive World Cup finals. Since the turn of the century, the Spaniards have finished top of their respective World Cup group four times in five tournaments.

Costa Rica are quite capable of causing upsets and they demonstrated this in 2014 when they pipped powerhouses like England, Italy and Uruguay and topped their group. However, their current squad have had a poor run in the past few months, mainly because of a lack of firepower upfront.

Spain and Costa Rica are joined by Germany and Japan in this group, and experts are divided on who will advance to the next stage. Spain will be expected to defeat Costa Rica but their big test will be against Germany. Costa Rica, by virtue of its world ranking, are expected to finish rock bottom in this interesting-looking group.

Players to watch:

Spain: Unai Simon (goalkeeper), Aymeric Laporte (defender), Ferran Torres (forward)

Costa Rica: Joel Campbell (forward), Celso Borges (midfielder), Jewison Bennette (forward)

Head-to-head record

Spain have won two of the three encounters and the other ended in a draw.

9pm: Belgium v Canada

In the past two editions of the World Cup Belgium has been a force to be reckoned with. In March 2022, Belgium was still ranked as the world's No 1 team and opponents will be mindful of this.

Belgium, the current world No 2, suffered a heavy blow after an injury to their talismanic striker Romelu Lukaku, who has been central to their success in recent years.

Canada have nothing to lose and will be making only their second appearance at the World Cup finals in 36 years. The Canadians exceeded expectations in the qualifying and finished ahead of the United States and Mexico. The team has arrived in Qatar high on confidence.

Players to watch: Belgium: Jan Vertonghen (centre-back), Axel Witsel (midfielder), Kevin De Bruyne (midfielder)

Canada: Stephen Eustaquio (defensive midfielder), Tajon Buchanan (right-winger), Alphonso Davies (left-sided attacking midfielder)

Head-to-head record

Belgium have faced Canada once before and won that game.

LIVE BLOG: Fifa World Cup, Day 4 – Can Morocco beat the odds for Africa at the World Cup?

Eish, now I know after seeing Herve’ Renard’s success with Saudi Arabia, our own SA football fans have a tinge of disappointment seeing the ‘White Shirt’ doing all the things against Argentina.

Congratulations to the team and the staff for this game, I dedicate this victory to the Saudi people. We are waiting for your support next match! 🇸🇦🦅💚#HervéRenard #SaudiArabia #WorldCup #Alhamdulilah pic.twitter.com/FOUts999gr

— Hervé Renard (@Herve_Renard_HR) November 22, 2022

What a day day three turned out to be!

It all started with lots of promise for Lionel Messi who got his World Cup quest under way but things slowly went south for the ‘GOAT’ and his team. Saudi Arabia pulled one the greatest wins of the competition’s history as Hervé Renard guided his side to a 2-1 win over one of the tournament favourites.

Understandably with all that’s at stake Messi said the defeat was a 'very heavy blow'

Lionel Messi: "There are no excuses. We have to be more united than ever. This group is strong and has shown it. It's a situation we haven't gone through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group." 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/bfw3b4r1v2

— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) November 22, 2022

The win meant so much to Saudi Arabia their king declared Wednesday a public holiday!

Us Bafana Bafana fans will have to wait a long time for a public holiday …

France meanwhile, managed to come back from an early scare and beat Australia 4-1. IOL Sport’s Eshlin Vedan says one of things we did learn from the World Champions victory is that Olivier Giroud can actually score in a world cup

Olivier Giroud equals Henry as France all time topscorer: 51 goals.
He’s still doing incredible also with AC Milan as he scored 22 goals in 55 total apps, winning Serie A title.
Milan invested less than €2m to sign him in 2021. New deal to be discussed soon.
Special player 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/b5Ax8PbE8X

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 22, 2022

Here’s our Live Blog from Tuesday, in a day that turned out to be action packed.

IOL Sport

Original Article

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