France and Morocco are set to fight it out for a FIFA World Cup final spot in a historic semi-final clash at the Al-Bayt Stadium on Thursday morning.
Fighting for a spot alongside Argentina in the famed World Cup final, France will look to secure their chance to win a second consecutive world title after they defeated Croatia in the 2018 Russia World Cup final.
A second World Cup on the bounce would put France amongst the elite company of two other nations who have achieved the feat, Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962).
Meanwhile, Morocco are entering uncharted territory with tomorrow’s match set to be the country’s first appearance in a World Cup semifinal.
Not only that, Morocco are hoping to make history for the entire continent of Africa which has never had a team in the World Cup semifinals, let alone the final.
With all of their previous meetings coming in international friendlies, the semifinal will be the first competitive clash between the two nations.
In their previous meetings, France have never lost a match against Morocco with their last match finishing in a 2-2 draw in November 2007.
With a free-scoring France squad coming up against an dogged Morocco defense, the semifinal is expected to produce a stark conflict of styles.
In an incredible statistic, no opposition player has managed to score against Morocco at this World Cup with their only goal conceded coming through an own goal from Nayef Aguerd against Canada.
The clash between Moroccan right-back Achraf Hakimi and France forward Kylian Mbappe, arguably the best players in either side, is expected to be a key battle in the fight for a final spot.
The duo are good friends and clubmates at Paris Saint-Germain, but their relationship will be put to one side as Hakimi is tasked with containing Mbappe who leads the scoring charts at the Qatar World Cup.
With many matches won in the midfield, Morocco will face a hard task coming up against an in-form combination of Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot and recent midfield convert Antoine Griezmann.
However, Morocco boast a not-so-secret weapon in the bombarding midfield powerhouse that is Sofyan Amrabat.
The 26-year-old, who plies his trade in Italy with Fiorentina, has played every minute of the World Cup and proved to be one of the key players in Morocco’s fairy tale run to the semifinals.
Averaging 2.2 tackles per game at the 2022 World Cup, Amrabat has helped Morocco to become the side with the highest amount of tackles (107) in the 2022 World Cup.
Up front, Youssef El-Nesyri is expected to lead the Moroccan attack and the 25-year-old will look to extend his record as his nation’s highest goal scorer in World Cup history.
Meanwhile, French striker Olivier Giroud could become the oldest player in World Cup history to score five goals at a World Cup, having already scored four in Qatar.
Currently unbeaten at the World Cup with three wins and two draws, Morocco are in the midst of another historic record as they look to extend their record for the longest unbeaten run by an African nation in World Cup history.
Defending champions France cannot boast an unbeaten record in Qatar after falling to a 1-nil defeat against Tunisia in their final group match. No side has ever lost two different African sides at a World Cup.
The winner of Thursday’s semifinal between France and Morocco will face off against Argentina in the World Cup final at 4am on Monday 19 December.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz