LIVE BLOG: World Cup Day 25: And then there were two ... France to face Argentina in final



Published Dec 14, 2022


Cape Town – On this 25th day of football fever, we bring you everything you need to know about the Fifa World Cup semi-final clash between France and Morocco as well as the players to watch tonight.


FULL TIME: France 2, Morocco 0

Reigning champions France broke Moroccan and African hearts on Wednesday evening as they booked a World Cup final meeting with Lionel Messi and Argentina.

HALF TIME: France 1, Morocco 0

France take a 1-0 lead into the break of their World Cup semi-final against Morocco. The world champions went ahead thanks to a 5th minute strike by defender Theo Hernandez.

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 14, 2022

NEXT UP: France v Morocco

France have made two changes to their starting line-up for Wednesday's World Cup semi-final against Morocco, with Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano both dropping out of the side due to illness.

Youssouf Fofana comes into the midfield in place of Rabiot, who has appeared in all five of France's matches so far but is not even listed among the substitutes for the match at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 14, 2022

Morocco are the first African team and the first Arab team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.

Defenders Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui return from the injury problems that ruled them out of the 1-0 win over Portugal in the quarter-finals.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui has opted for a three-man central defence, with captain Romain Saiss fit to start after picking up a knock against Portugal.

France (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris (capt); Jules Kounde, Raphael Varane, Ibrahima Konate, Theo Hernandez; Antoine Griezmann, Aurelien Tchouameni, Youssouf Fofana; Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe

Morocco (3-4-3): Yassine Bounou; Jawad El Yamiq, Romain Saiss (capt), Nayef Aguerd; Achraf Hakimi, Sofyan Amrabat, Azzedine Ounahi, Noussair Mazraoui; Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En-Nesyri, Sofiane Boufal

World Cup semi-final, France v Morocco, 9pm

While in the shadow of French idol Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud had been flying under the radar but he stepped into the spotlight when he scored the winner against England. After the blow of losing Karim Benzema, great things were expected of Giroud. He is an honest worker, and his play off the ball is underrated, but he could prove to be the talisman in France's bid to reach back-to-back World Cup finals.

French coach Didier Deschamps will be pulling his hair out when he prepares his strategy for the Morocco clash. Yassine Bounou, the Morocco goalkeeper, is nigh unbeatable. After five matches in Qatar, the only goal he conceded was an own goal against Canada.

Incredibly, Morocco have clean sheets against Belgium, Spain and Portugal. That must be a frightening statistic for any upcoming opponent. Another clean sheet may prove key to Morocco crossing this hurdle against the reigning World Cup champions.

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 14, 2022

Players to watch:

France: Raphael Varane (centre-back), Kylian Mbappe (forward), Olivier Giroud (striker)

Morocco:  Yassine Bounou (goalkeeper), Romain Saiss (centre-back), Achraf Hakimi (right-wingback)

Head-to-head record:

France and Morocco have faced each other 11 times, and Les Bleus have the upper hand in those contests, winning seven, drawing three, and losing only once.

IOL Sport