By PA Sport Staff
Croatia and Morocco provide the prelude to Sunday’s final with the third-place play-off in Qatar.
Meanwhile, France have been hit by a sickness bug ahead of their bid to defend their 2018 title against Argentina.
Here's what lies ahead from the final two days at the World Cup.
Illness affecting France’s final plans
Centre-backs Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate are the two latest players to have reportedly been affected by illness inside the France camp.
Midfielder Adrien Rabiot was absent for Wednesday’s semi-final win over Morocco, while Dayot Upamecano and Kingsley Coman have also been unwell.
Les Bleus forward Randal Kolo Muani told a press conference he expected his team-mates to be fit to face Argentina, albeit a French press officer quickly interjected that the player “is not a doctor” and said further information would be provided later.
“I think there is a flu going around; it’s nothing too serious and they will be fine I think for Sunday,” said Eintracht Frankfurt striker Kolo Muani.
“Everyone is being careful. The doctors have put in place a hygiene system to avoid the virus spreading.”
Regragui happy to take ‘booby prize’
Tomorrow Atlas Lions will be playing for FIFA World Cup 3rd place 🥉against Croatia 🇭🇷 in Khalifa Stadium 🏟️ at 4PM (GMT+1) 🕓#DimaMaghrib 🇲🇦 #TeamMorocco #FIFAWorldCup @pumafootball pic.twitter.com/fC55urPkMi
— Équipe du Maroc (@EnMaroc) December 16, 2022
The World Cup third-place play-off is generally regarded as the worst game to play but Morocco head coach Walid Regragui still wants to win it and become the first African nation to medal in a finals.
They face Croatia at Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday to battle for the bronze medal, having already become the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final.
“Finishing third is not the same as finishing fourth and we want to take a medal home with us,” said Regragui, who also referred to the match as the “booby prize”.
“When you come out of a semi-final, the first time we’ve ever been in one, emotions were running high and it was quite difficult, however, my players still have that appetite they want to finish well.”
Modric may not bow out just yet – Dalic
Never. Give. Up. pic.twitter.com/Rv3C6bZrB6
— Luka Modrić (@lukamodric10) December 9, 2022
The third-place play-off could be the final international outing for 37-year-old Croatia midfielder Luka Modric – although head coach Zlatko Dalic is hopeful he will continue beyond the World Cup.
Modric may not even start the game but Dalic believes the Real Madrid midfielder may continue playing until Euro 2024 in Germany.
“I hope that he will be with us,” he replied when asked about Modric’s chances of continuing his international career.
“I’m looking forward to that and I think it is quite certain that he will be but Luka Modric will decide personally as well how he feels.
“Knowing how he feels about football and the Croatia national team, I’m quite sure he will, but it is his decision only.”
Expanded Club World Cup announced
Prospects of a European Super League may be more distant then ever but the domestic football calendar is set to get more congested for top clubs after Fifa announced the expansion of the Club World Cup.
President Gianni Infantino has revealed the introduction of a new quadrennial men’s tournament kicking off in summer 2025 and featuring 32 teams from across the globe, having cancelled the original 24-team tournament planned for last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“They will be the best teams in the world. They will be invited to participate,” said Infantino.
The Premier League has yet to see any formal proposals from Fifa about the Club World Cup in 2025, nor the following year’s expanded World Cup, the PA news agency understands.
Picture of the day
Tweet of the day
🇪🇸 13 years of wearing the Spain shirt with pride.
Enjoy your international retirement, @5sergiob 👏
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 16, 2022
Croatia v Morocco, third-fourth place play-off (Saturday, 3pm)