Before the grand final, Morocco vs Croatia in ‘cruelest game’, third place in the playoffs
BEFORE THE World Cup heads to Lusail Iconic Stadium, a glittering bowl amid gleaming skyscrapers on the outskirts of Doha, it stops at Khalifa Stadium, the country’s oldest stadium renovated with a dramatically sloping top rim, nestled in the heart of the ambitious city. The world is breathlessly awaiting Sunday’s final between Argentina and France on the Lusail; third place in the playoffs between Morocco and Croatia remains largely an afterthought, but not without stakes, context or suspense.
Its sheer design makes it a strange competition. Two teams with their title ambitions destroyed, the semi-final defeat still haunting and agonizing, the ifs and buts swirling in their heads, their dreams shattered, their tired bodies, still recovering, all those things buried, the drain of both mind and body, to fight for a bronze medal, which could hardly be a consolation when weighed with the immediacy of the semi-final heartbreak. [Read more]