African trailblazers Morocco will look to continue their magical World Cup 2022 journey. When they face a test of their mettle against current holders France in Wednesday’s semi-final at the Al Bayt Stadium. France vs Morocco FIFA World Cup.
The Atlas Lions stunned Portugal 1-0 to reach the last four. While Les Bleus sent England home with a 2-1 scoreline to keep their hopes of back-to-back titles alive and await Argentina or Croatia. Winners of showpiece events.
France vs Morocco FIFA World Cup
Harry Kane’s missed penalty is a collector’s item in football. And France were the “lucky” recipients – according to Didier Deschamps – of such good fortune. As the reigning champions prevented England from taking the football home in a memorable quarter-final.
An accurate Kane penalty either side of Aurelien Tchouameni’s thunderbolt and Olivier Giroud’s header did the job for France. Although the Blues fans were relieved and shocked in equal measure when the England captain fired the second spot kick over the top.
France also had to survive a late Marcus Rashford free kick that nestled into the roof of the net. And referee Wilton Sampaio found himself at the center of controversy. But a place in the semi-finals was fully deserved for the Blues. Whose aspirations of back-to-back titles are still alive.
Les Bleus failed to win any of their first three World Cup semi-finals. But won their last three in 1998, 2006 and 2018, making it 84 years since a European nation reached the World Cup final. As reigning champions – the Italian luminaries of 1934 and 1938 were the most recent to do so.
With Kane’s nod from the spot, France ensured they would be without a 2022 World Cup clean sheet ahead of their semi-final with Morocco. Who certainly know a thing or two about uprooting opposition players, albeit defensively. Changes are being forced on them.
Morocco wrote their history in FIFA world Cup
Whatever happens at the Al Bayet Stadium on Wednesday, the current Moroccan crop have already cemented their place in national and continental folklore. As the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
Forced to meet a Portugal side without Nayef Aguirre and Nussair Mazraoui. Switzerland’s thrashing of six was not what the doctor ordered for Walid Regragui. But his stand-ins performed admirably to keep the Selecao at bay. And a Youssef N-Nessiri. Had a header for the Atlas Lions to make African history.
Morocco will indeed be worthy finalists, after taking most of the spoils against three international behemoths in Belgium, Spain and Portugal. And the Atlas Lions enter the semi-finals having kept opposition players from scoring in the entire tournament so far.
Aguirre’s own goal against Qatar represents the only one to beat Yassin Bouno in Qatar – Regragui’s side otherwise have four clean sheets to their name. And the Moroccan faithful should enjoy this statistic, as the last two teams kept five clean sheets. A single World Cup was won by Italy in 2006 and Spain in 2010, both champions.
Reluctance has also been beneficial for Morocco, as just nine of the 45 shots they have faced at the World Cup have been on target. But facing a France side who have never lost in five games to the Atlas Lions, Regragui should not be intimidated. Players or their vocal fanbases.
At a Glance France
France enter the final four with fresh concerns over the pairing of Deot Upmechano and Adrien Rabiot. Both of whom presented cold-like symptoms and missed training on Tuesday. So the pair are classified as doubts for the competition. Ibrahima Konate and Yusuf Fofana will deputize if required.
If Deschamps has everyone available, the Blues XI will pick itself, with Jules Conde leaving Benjamin Pavard firmly in the right-back position. And Theo Hernandez doing a decent job in the absence of his injured brother Lucas Hernandez. Who suffered a torn ACL in their opener. Match with Australia.
France’s all-time leading male goalscorer Giroud became the oldest player in history to net five goals in a single World Cup as he netted here. And Kylian Mbappe’s England kept relatively quiet, with Les Bleus now winning all 10. The 23-year-old star has started the games in the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Moroccan striker Waleed Chedira picked up two yellow cards in quick succession against Portugal and will be suspended for the semi-final. But the 24-year-old was never expected for a starting berth.
West Ham United’s Aguirre missed France’s quarter-final win over Portugal in the last 16 with an adductor injury. But Regargui will pull out all the stops to make him available as Romain Saiss had to be carried off on a stretcher on Saturday. Hamstring problems.
Saiss confirmed he will do everything in his power to be fit for the semi-finals, where Mazraowi could force his way back from a hip flexor problem. And Hakim Ziach will also hope to be fit despite being forced off. At the end of the week.
However, Regargui can rest easy after witnessing determined performances from Yahya Attiat Allah and Jawad El Yamik against Portugal and will need at least one here.
Team Lineups France vs Morocco FIFA World Cup
France possible team formations:
Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud
Morocco possible team formations:
Bono; Hakimi, El Yamiq, Aguerd, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal
Prediction France vs Morocco
Prediction: France 2-0 Morocco
Morocco’s exemplary defensive resilience was unaffected by their injury concerns against Portugal. But more fitness issues at the rearguard will surely spell the end of their clean sheet streak and possibly their inspirational World Cup run.
Regargui’s injured warriors could very well be looking to bounce back for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And a France side that only needed Mbappe in the starting lineup to win a World Cup match will no doubt take advantage. So a second consecutive final should be on the menu at Les Bleus.