France and Morroco are set to slug it out in the 2022 World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night at the Al Bayt Stadium in what happens to be the final fixture before we head to Lusail Iconic Stadium for the final on Sunday. Now, all eyes are on France vs Morroco.
The North Africans have been the artists of a beautiful masterpiece in their sensational run to the last four of the competition, knocking out titans and heavy favourites like Spain and Portugal en-route.
But will that same magic and aura be found when Regragui"s side take on defending World Champions, France?
The Atlas Lions are one of the two sides which remain undefeated at Qatar 2022. They"ve drawn once, won thrice(against Belgium, Canada and Portugal) and won via shoot-out once(Spain) but have never tasted defeat on the Arabian soil throughout their fantastic campaign. The other is Croatia, Morroco"s group members who made the knock-out stages of the Round of 16 as Group F runners-up. A stalemate against Morroco, 4-1 triumph over Canada and a 0-0 draw with Belgium, the Vatreni are in the semi-finals after defeating both Japan and Brazil on penalty-shoot out in the Round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively. France as good as they"ve been, have lost once, being defeated 1-0 to Tunisia in their final group game.
Join the club
Didier Deschamps men are set to be the third country to lift World Cup trophies back to back.
Italy did in 1934 and 1938 while a Pele-inspired Brazil clasped both the 1958 and 1962 trophies. France now find themselves in exactly that same position to write their name in sports history as they look to make their third World cup final appearance in the 21st century(2006 and 2018)
Didier Deschamps" side are a team unperturbed and undaunted by the flurry of challenges they"ve faced recently.
Les Bleus lost a few members of their formidable troop coming to Qatar but that has not bothered the Frenchmen.
Unarguably the greatest asset to the World Cup winners, Karim Benzema narrowly missed out on the tournament, having sustained an injury to his left thigh two days to the start of the tournament, which ultimate forced his country to drop him from the final squad. Benzema"s not exactly the kind of player any squad wants to lose. The Madrid player has been in such crazy form all year long, scoring 42 goals combined in the UEFA Champions League and La Liga, to help his team claim their 14th UCL trophy and 35th league title last season, a performance which earned him the 2022 Ballon d"Or.
Asides Benzema, Leipzig"s Christopher Nkunku, Juventus" Paul Pogba, Chelsea midfielder, Ngolo Kante are also being missed by the French squad. Lucas Hernandez who made it to the match opener picked up an injury against the Australians and had to be substituted, just thirteen minutes into the game.
Now France are having to fight a world war without a good portion of their weaponry. But their efforts have been really commendable. Despite the fact that they"ve got quite a number of hands off deck, they"ve still got valuables. They"ve got players like Mbappe, Giroud, Tchouameni, Griezmann.
But here"s another thing: The French do have a couple of problems heading into this game. They may be missing Tchouameni and centre-back Upamecano in the clash against Morroco. Tchouameni sustained a calf strain against England while Upamecano"s currently feeling unwell. It"s also said that Mbappe failed to do proper training on Monday due to an ankle problem he"s been having.
How France got to France vs Morroco
Mbappe has been splendid so far and he currently tops the goalscoring chart with five goals in five games. Chances are that the prodigy would equal Ronaldo Nazario"s 21st century record of eight at a World Cup competition (set in 2002). He"s scored exactly the number of World Cup goals Lionel Messi has scored despite being almost 12 years younger.
It"s just his second tournament and with age on his side, Miroslav Klose"s record of sixteen could very well be in danger of oblivion. Mbappe"s World Cup will continue to boost the rumors surrounding the French star.
Giroud"s also another great player. He and Mbappe have created a kind of partnership that has done real damage to some countries during the course of their quest for glory.
The AC Milan forward is just on par with Lionel Messi on four goals and one behind Kylian, his teammate. Giroud earlier equalled Thierry Henry"s record of the most number of international goals scored for France in the 4-1 win over Australia, scoring 50 and 51 respectively. He surpassed Henry courtesy of his opener against Poland in the Round of 16.
Giroud"s quarter final effort against England was his 53rd for France, now two ahead of Henry. He"d definitely look to finding the back of the net in the remaining games of the competition.
France vs Morroco: The Lethal French Attack
Didier Deschamps employs a 4-2-3-1 formation where Giroud spearheads an attacking trident of Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele. Griezmann and Dembele by the way have also contributed their quote to France"s success so far. Although both haven"t yet found the back of the net in Qatar, they"ve cooked up assists to help their nation to wins.
France vs Morroco: Mbappe and Hakimi
This clash would also featuring several intense moments between Kylian Mbappe and his PSG teammate, Achraf Hakimi. It"s interesting to note that while Mbappe plays down the left flank for PSG, a wing he highly terrorised in the match against Poland, Achraf Hakimi guards the same flank for Morroco, even though he plays as a wingback for Regragui.
Well, it"s definitely hoped that despite the passion burning in these two, both players can give each other a good game with much respect and no hard feelings.
France vs Morroco: Morroco Can Do It Again
One take-home from this tournament is that the dark horses cannot be underestimated. There have been several cases of upsets so France definitely do not have the win here, not yet.
They"re going up against a very energetic Morrocan side, a side that have what it takes to shock the world yet again, a team unfazed by the class of their opponents.
It"s going to be a real blockbuster.
Possible line-ups, venue and time for France vs Morroco
France possible line-up: 4-2-3-1
Lloris, Hernandez, Upamecano/Konate, Varane, Kounde, Rabiot, Tchouameni/Fofana, Mbappe, Griezmann, Dembele, Giroud.
Morroco possible line-up: 4-3-3
Bono, Mazraoui, Saiss, Aguerd, Hakimi, Sabiri, Amrabat, Ounahi, Boufal, En-Nesyri, Ziyech
Venue: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Time: 7:00 PM GMT
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Main image credit Embed from Getty Images