FIFA Men's World Cup
World Cup Now: Luka Modrić, Croatia again defy expectations
FIFA Men's World Cup

World Cup Now: Luka Modrić, Croatia again defy expectations

Updated Dec. 17, 2022 2:26 p.m. ET

Croatia defeated Morocco Saturday 2-1 in the third-place game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. All three goals came in the first half, with Joško Gvardiol and Mislav Oršić scoring for Croatia, while Achraf Dari punched in Morocco's lone goal.

On the latest "World Cup Now," Sacha Kljestan, Melissa Ortiz, Jimmy Conrad and DaMarcus Beasley broke down Croatia's run in this year's World Cup.

Croatia vs. Morocco highlights

Sacha Kljestan on Luka Modrić's future: I think whether this is his last game for Croatia or not, it's nice to go out as a winner in the World Cup. To finish in third, it's a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment for this group of guys who did it not only in this World Cup but in the last one, as well — to finish second and then to finish third for a small country of four million people. Very proud Croatians. I think they'll be very happy with their results in the past four years. If you're a Croatian or if you're a Croatian fan, you've got to say that they've defied expectations, I think, going into both World Cups.


Melissa Ortiz on the significance of winning a third-place game: I've been in this situation before. Look how happy the Croatians are right now. It's just such an incredible moment, going through a whole month at a World Cup at the most important event of your life, of your career, and to end it at least on a sweet note whether you won or lost this game … Yes, it's bitter because you didn't make it to the final, but at the end of this game we poured our hearts out onto that field. And I remember it also when we lost, we lost 1-0 to South Korea. It was bitter. We were mad that we lost, but then when you get into the locker room and you kind of [decompress], and you sit back, and you think about everything that you've just done for yourself, for your country, for your teammates, for everything, it's so unique. And they're gonna go back and celebrate this moment.

Jimmy Conrad on Croatia's future: They've been to the knockout rounds three times in their history, and each time they've gotten to a semifinal, a final in the 2018 World Cup, and now another semifinal where they ended up getting third in this tournament. I think that speaks a lot to the quality of players they're producing, but they seem to be getting to the end of somewhat of a golden generation. I know we've talked about Joško Gvardiol being a 20-year-old, but a lot of the other guys that they've been relying on for many years are a little bit older, so I'm curious to see how they transition.

DaMarcus Beasley on Dominik Livaković being his goalkeeper of the tournament: If you watch the games against Brazil and the saves that he made, even tonight against Morocco, it's his in-game performance that I think got an edge over any other keeper in this World Cup.

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