Defending champions France will take on surprise package Morocco in what will definitely be a very interesting semifinal encounter. Les Bleus have been fantastic in the competition thus far and have played what is very close to a perfect game thus far, barring one game against Tunisia in the group stages, where Didier Deschamps tested his bench strength after securing qualification in the first two games.
Front men Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe have been fantastic for France, scoring a total of nine goals between them, with Mbappe even registering two assists. Antoine Griezmann has also had an outstanding tournament, where he has been able to turn back the clock, as the veteran is back to his best, setting up chances and threatening to score, while also contributing in defence.
Deschamps’ men have additionally had a great midfield with Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga stepping up in the absence ofN’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. Adrien Rabiot has also had quite the tournament, with a couple of vital performances. However, it is not the case that France’s performances have surprised many, given the abundance of their talent reserves.
Morocco have had an excellent tournament thus far, causing upset after upset. Initially, it was a huge achievement for the African side to have even qualified for the knockouts. Morocco were one of only three teams to go through the group stages undefeated, beating Belgium on the way to the Round of 16 as well.
Since then, Walid Regragui’s side have caused two massive upsets, taking out both Spain and Portugal on their way to the semifinal. Hakim Ziyech has been great for the Atlas Lions in attack, as he was instrumental in their qualification. Since then, the Moroccans have taken a more defensive approach to their game and understandably so, as they have preferred to take games to the penalty shootouts.
They were successful in keeping the Spanish attack at bay before delivering the knockout blow in the shootout. Against Portugal, a towering header from Youssef en-Nesyri in the first half was enough to see them go through. Sofyan Amrabat has been fabulous for his nation, as he has put in some tremendous performances, his work-rate being the most staggering feature of his game. Yassine Bounou’s superb showings in goal have also greatly contributed to the Moroccan march so far.
Kylian Mbappe has been in top-notch form in the past few seasons and has continued his performances with his national side as well. Despite winning the World Cup four years ago, the PSG forward has shown the desire to reach the summit on this occasion as well, with a fantastic performance thus far in the tournament. He has five goals in the competition along with two assists, and his natural talent combined with his excellent judgement in front of goal makes him a huge threat to any team.
Veteran Atletico Madrid striker Antonie Griezmann has found his form once again with some brilliant displays in the World Cup. One of Deschamps’ best players in their successful campaign in 2018, Griezmann has been instrumental yet again, creating six big chances in the premier competition. He has a chart-topping four assists to his name, and has dictated the French attacking play. His vision, combined with his ability to make exquisite passes will be on the mind of the Moroccan defence.
Real Madrid academy product Achraf Hakimi is undoubtedly one of his side’s best players. Blessed with lightning speed and reasonable defensive solidity, the PSG full-back has stood out with great performances for his country. Hakimi, who initially started off as a winger, also has the gift of a great shot, and could be a huge factor should the scales tip in Morocco’s favour at the end of the game,
Sevilla shotstopper Yassine Bounou has been extraordinary for his country in this tournament. The veteran has made some unbelievable saves that have kept his side alive in the competition. Bounou’s reaction saves have been brilliant and could well come to good use during the course of the semifinal. With Morocco likely to want to take the game into a penalty shootout, Bounou’s services will be of extreme importance after his heroics against Spain.
Two completely contrasting sides on paper, Morocco and France will face off in what is sure to be quite a tense encounter. Although the Moroccans might not have quite the talent that the Les Blues have, they have been upto it in the tournament, with a few major victories.
After causing several upsets this tournament, Morocco will be hopeful of another, which is very well possible, but nevertheless, the defending champs start favourites.