A Morocco fan cheers ahead of the match between Canada and Morocco on Thursday.
A Morocco fan cheers ahead of the match between Canada and Morocco on Thursday. (Hannah Mckay/Reuters)

Belgium, Croatia and Morocco can all still qualify for the knockout rounds in what promises to be a fascinating round of matches. Belgium and Croatia will play each other, while Morocco faces Canada – which is already out of the tournament.

Many Moroccans will still be recovering from an emotional victory against Belgium on Sunday, in what was the country’s first World Cup win since 1998 – and its third ever.

“If we get through to the knockout stage, I think we will be very dangerous going forward,” Moroccan manager Walid Regragui told reporters earlier this week.

Anything other than a place in the round of 16 will be a major disappointment for both Belgium and Croatia.

The latter was the defeated finalist in 2018 and needs just a draw against Belgium to ensure progression through the group.

But coach Zlatko Dalić says he refuses to entertain playing for anything but a win.

“We must not accept the option of having only one point to end the match with Belgium,” he told reporters. “There are no easy games. Belgium need a win but we will also aim for a win.”

Belgium, meanwhile, has struggled to find its feet in the tournament so far.

It was largely outplayed despite beating Canada in its opening game and suffered a confidence-knocking defeat to Morocco the last time out.

However, coach Roberto Martinez says his team will be ready for the showdown and hopes his star players, such as Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, can turn its fortunes around.

“We have to stay together now and become stronger. I know this group, we will be ready for Croatia,” he told reporters. “We haven’t been the best Belgium at this World Cup yet.”

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