Your team has just lost in the semi-finals of a World Cup. You are naturally heartbroken, endlessly replaying the possibilities of what could have been.
After a month-long stint that ends in a devastating loss, you can’t wait to get home to see family and friends, but instead you have to stay and play in the third-place playoffs.
For many, this seems like a largely pointless exercise. Does it really matter which team comes third or fourth? However, there is glory to be had.
If coming in third instead of fourth isn’t motivation enough, the winner of the match will also receive a bronze medal and a bit more money for their efforts – $27 million instead of $25 million.
All but two World Cup tournaments in history – the first in 1930 and again in 1950 – have featured a third place play-off and this could be seen as a nice way to end your tournament on a high. rating after a disappointing loss.
The significance of the third-place playoffs at each World Cup depends entirely on the teams contesting them. Four years ago in Russia, England played like they couldn’t care less about the game, while Uruguay in 2010, although losing to Germany, and Croatia in 1998 were certainly much more eager to play. try to win.
This year, in Morocco and Croatia, there are two teams that seem eager to try and get that bronze medal and an extra $2 million for their respective federations.
Morocco’s incredible run to the semi-finals, which saw the Atlas Lions become the first African country and Arab nation in history to reach the last four of a World Cup, ended in a 2-0 defeat against France on Wednesday.
The team were hugely impressive in Qatar, upsetting Belgium, Spain and Portugal with their defensive organization and attacking verve. Even in the second half of the loss to France, Morocco were by far the better of the two teams and could have extended the match had it not been for a lack of quality in the box.
Having already made history, Morocco and head coach Walid Regragui will want to further cement themselves in the record books by also becoming the first African team to finish third.
Croatia, meanwhile, missed a game to reach back-to-back World Cup finals after being outscored and overpowered 3-0 by Argentina in the semi-finals.
After playing extra time and penalty shootouts in its previous two rounds, the Croatian players looked understandably exhausted against the South Americans and were outplayed from start to finish.
Captain Luka Modric will no doubt want to end his international career on a high in what will be his last World Cup game and this group will want to secure their place as the best team in Croatian history with consecutive second and third places . , a remarkable achievement for a country of less than four million people.
These two sides played out a tense 0-0 draw in their opening group stage game three weeks ago and Saturday’s clash will likely be just as close.
Saturday 10 a.m. ET at Khalifa International Stadium.
United States: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Brazil: Sport TV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC