Morocco’s 2022 World Cup fairytale continues on Wednesday as the tournament’s surprise package face France in the semi-finals at 7.00 pm.
Reigning world champions Les Bleus made sure ‘it’s not coming home’ with a dramatic 2-1 win over England in their blockbuster quarter-final tie and are now two victories away from a flattering milestone.
Didier Deschamps’ men are odds-on favourites to edge out Morocco and get a chance to become the first nation to defend the World Cup crown since Brazil in 1962.
Kylian Mbappe had a quiet game by his standards against England, but France’s all-time top goalscorer Olivier Giroud stepped up to the plate to oust Gareth Southgate’s squad with a late header.
The Moroccans are a gift that keeps on giving, with the African sensations upsetting the odds time after time again to become the first-ever CAF nation to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.
Walid Regragui’s team first sent FIFA’s #2-ranked Belgium packing in the group stages before claiming two massive Iberian scalps in the knockout phase to set up this tie.
Morocco’s stunning penalty win over Spain in the round of 16 caught many by surprise. But their unlikely 1-0 triumph over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the quarter-finals was an absolute history-maker.
No matter what happens in Al Khor, the Atlas Lions have won the hearts of neutrals, setting the benchmark high for future outsiders.
France’s underwhelming 1-0 defeat to Tunisia in a Group D dead rubber extended their topsy-turvy form against African nations at the World Cup.
Les Bleus have alternated between winning and losing across their six previous World Cup showdowns against teams from the CAF region (W3, L3).
What’s even more worrying is that Deschamps’ men have yet to keep a clean sheet in Qatar, which doesn’t bode well for their bid to successfully negotiate their semi-final tie at a World Cup for the fourth time running.
In stark contrast to France’s defensive woes, no opposition player has yet to score against Morocco in the first-ever winter World Cup, with their backline’s only capitulation coming via an own goal in a 2-1 win against Canada.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder the Moroccans have set an outright African record for six consecutive unbeaten matches at the World Cup (W3, D3).
Morocco’s hopes of maintaining their dream run in Qatar will rest upon Youssef En-Nesyri, whose first-half winner against Portgual made him the country’s best-ever scorer at the World Cup, with three goals.
France vs Morocco Head-to-Head
While this will be the first World Cup clash between France and Morocco, the nations have met each other five times before, with the European heavyweights leading the H2H stakes by a margin.
Indeed, Les Bleus haven’t lost any of their five previous matches against the Atlas Lions (W3, D2). But the spoils were shared in an enthralling 2-2 draw in their most recent friendly clash in 2007.
France vs Morocco Team News
Since losing Lucas Hernandez to a long-term injury in a curtain-raising 4-1 demolition of Australia, France have suffered no further injury setbacks, yet fatigue could be a problem.
Deschamps made just one substitution during Les Bleus’ intense quarter-final and will likely stick to the same line-up that fought tooth and nail to dispatch England.
As for Morocco, they stood firm under Portugal’s second-half siege last time out. But at what cost?
Captain Romain Saiss limped off the pitch before the 60-minute mark, joining Regragui’s other first-choice centre-back Nayef Aguerd on the sidelines for this fixture.
The Moroccans are optimistic about the latter’s fitness, with the same going for Noussair Mazraoui, who missed out on the quarter-final due to illness.
France vs Morocco Potential Line-ups
France (4-2-3-1): Hugo Lloris; Jules Kounde, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.
Morocco (4-3-3): Bounou; Achraf Hakimi, Jawad El Yamiq, Badr Benoun, Yahya Attiyat-Allah; Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Salem Amallah; Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En-Nesyri, Sofiane Boufal.
France vs Morocco Prediction
Unless we witness another massive upset at this weird tournament, France should halt Morocco’s dream of reaching the final.
Given all the injuries and fatigue, it’s hard to imagine this phenomenal African team going toe-to-toe with one of the most frightening attacking line-ups in the world.
We expect Les Bleus to bring things back to ‘normal’ at Al Bayt Stadium.
France 2-0 Morocco
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