France vs Morocco. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats, and more

PSG teammates – Achraf Hakimi and Kylian Mbappé – will clash as leaders of opposing national teams for tickets to final

France will meet with Morocco in the FIFA World Cup 2022 semi-finals match at the Albayt Stadium. The fixture will take place on Thursday, December 15, beginning at 00:30 IST.

The Qatar World Cup is coming to a finish with just three matches left to be played. The second semi-final match is the least intriguing of all, but don’t underestimate the level of contestation that lies ahead. 

The Blues dream of winning the World Cup for the second time in a row to become the first team to do so in the last 60 years. However, the Moroccans have already surprisingly shattered many dreams and rewritten the history of African teams at the Mundials at this tournament. So why don’t they encroach on an even bigger sensation? Especially since the fans’ sympathy at the stadium will be on their side, as Morocco represents the hope not only of Africa but also of the whole Arab world, to which Qatar belongs. There have already been reports of riots in the Moroccan districts of Paris ahead of the match, so given the rich shared history of the countries, the match promises to be a heated one.

Parimatch News will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming match.

France News & Current Form: 

Les Blues have won the World Cup only twice in their history – in 2018 and 1998. Now, they are on their way to joining the company of the best – Italy and Brazil. Gli Azzurri accomplished this in 1934 and 1938 becoming the first national football team to do so. Later on, the South Americans equalled the feat in 1958 and 1962. 

However, even if the French do make it to the final, it will not be easy at all to overcome the monstrous Argentinians – a kind of battle of the titans. History has shown that the fate of the trophy holders has often been difficult, for example, Argentina won the WС in 1986 and lost the final in 1990. Brazil won in 1994 but lost the final in 1998.

One consolation, however, is that Mbappe and Сo. have already managed to surpass what many feared very much — the “curse of the world champions”. That was especially concerning given Deschamps’ abysmal performance in the UEFA Nations League. In fact, three of the past Mundial winners (Italy, Spain, Germany), who had been coming to the next edition as reigning champions, were eliminated at the group stage. 

Now it seems that the French now truly have a ‘golden generation’ of players. The team is brimming with world-class stars, and the names of many players need no introduction – the press and fans talk about them all the time, tirelessly. The coach is also well-recognizable even by neutral occasional fans. Deschamps, by the way, is negotiating the option of extending the contract with the French federation until 2024. 

Taking a glance at the tournament path, Les Bleus were by no means in the toughest group, with lads of Didier Deschamps facing Denmark, Australia and Tunisia. After two victories over Australia (4-1) and Denmark (2-1), the Three-Coloured allowed themselves to be relaxed in the last round and played with an experimental starting line-up — Tunisia took advantage of it and won 1-0, but that didn’t help the Tunisians to qualify for the play-offs.

Then, they faced Poland in the 1/8 finals. To put it frankly, there was no fight in that clash – in fact, it was an easy 2-1 win for Mbappe and the team. Far more problems appeared against England in the quarter-finals. In essence, Gareth Southgate’s men looked better than the French producing an emphatic performance. Both bands were showing some interesting attacks and equally brilliant defending. However, luckily for Les Bleus, the out-of-the-blue long-shot opener by Aurélien Tchouaméni from Real Madrid drew a line under all the English efforts. The three Lions were let down by the crow-counting goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford from Everton. Thus, the Tricoloured won the first half, but their lead was not destined to hold on for a long time – England managed to get back in the game as Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane was accurate from the 11m spot kick. However, ageless striker Olivier Giroud made it look easy when sealing the tickets to the next stage with a perfect header. Prolific AC Milan striker just didn’t notice the huge Harry Maguire and John Stones on his way to an all-time scoring record of Equipe de France. Now it is two goals above legendary Thierry Henry (53 vs 51).

Things were also not without drama as the English could have taken the match into extra time, Theo Hernandez had fouled on Mason Mount and after pressing from Jude Bellingham and company, the referee gave another penalty and showed a yellow to the Rossoneri defender. And while the first penalty helped the English to get hope back, the second one saw Harry Kane sending the ball into the bleachers, just like Roberto Baggio‘s in 1994. And it demoralized the English team badly. 

Harry commented on the lost game on his Twitter:

“Absolutely gutted. We’ve given it everything and it’s come down to a small detail which I take responsibility for. There’s no hiding from it, it hurts and it’ll take some time to get over it but that’s part of sport”.

Although eye-catching Kylian Mbappe did not score in the match, he did a lot of the “dirty work”, taking part in the first goal when he dragged down two English defenders. It is also worth highlighting Antoine Griezmann who provided both of the assists. The Atlético de Madrid forward is having a very solid tournament.

Coach said about Aurélien Tchouameni:

“He is a very talented player. He had a great tournament so far. He is doing a lot of things. Sometimes, he is busy in the midfield other times he is setting up a goal for the others. He is a bit of a character. He has a very challenging role to play in the upcoming matches”.

Overall, it looks like Deschamps has managed to get the team in the right frame of mind after a disastrous Nations League campaign. The attack is working smoothly, and the trio of Mbappe, Giroud and Griezmann somehow find their way through any defense.

This semi-final promises some very exciting duels. First and foremost, there is the coaching duel: the very experienced Didier, who has already led his national team to victory at the World Cup, against Walid Regragui, who took charge of the Moroccan team just a few months before the tournament in Qatar, but has managed to rewrite the history and set records with his men.

A very curious duel is expected on the left flank of the French attack. There, the French left-back Kylian Mbappe is sure to face off against the Moroccan right-back Ashraf Hakimi throughout the game. The Paris Saint-Germain teammates have the same age (Hakimi is only a month and a half older) — and both could already be called European and world football stars. It could very well be the case that the semi-final clash between France and Morocco will be decided on this hotly contested flank area, where two of the brightest players of the new generation in football will meet face to face.   

Morocco News & Current Form: 

The Moroccan team has already become a sensation, becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the Mundial. Regragui Walid’s players seem to have done the impossible, getting out of a difficult group (Canada, Belgium, Croatia), beating Spain and Portugal in the play-offs! Much of the Moroccans’ success was a successful combination of Walid’s strategy, the successful play of goalkeeper Bono (Sevilla Spain) and the leadership qualities of Youssef En-Nesyri and Hakim Ziyech.

The team’s main strength is not even in their defensive play, but in their ability to switch to attack as quickly as possible. Those who have watched the Moroccans’ matches must have been impressed by their agility – they overcame the distance from their own goal to those of others in all games. 

In the 1/8 finals, the Moroccan team met with Spain, against which they were considered clear underdogs. However, the Moroccans forced their game on the rival and made it to the penalty shoot-out, where they proved stronger. In the quarter-finals, Morocco created another sensation, winning against Portugal 1-0.

In the game against Portugal, the Moroccans rewrote football history for their country and the continent. In fact, the victory over Portugal allowed Morocco to become the first African team to reach the semi-finals. Possessing the ball for less time during the game, they were not afraid to go on the attack in the first half and hit the ball more. Youssef En-Neciri, after a cross from Yahia Atiyatt Allah on the left, headed the ball into the net. But the Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa was unfortunate too.

However, there were two disadvantages in Morocco’s game. First, substitute Walid Cheddira played very harshly, elbowing Pepe in the neck and driving his foot into Joao Felix. He was deservedly suspended for that after the second yellow card: he will certainly not be involved in the semi-finals. And secondly, Zakaria Abouhlal, on 6th added minute, after a one-on-one situation, hit the Portuguese goalkeeper in the corner of the penalty area, although he could have decided the outcome of the match with one shot.

And now, even their next move against the reigning world champions does not look unbelievable. The Morocco team of 2022 is arguably the first African team in the history of the World Cup that has managed to harmoniously combine the skills of the leaders of their beautiful football generation with absolute team discipline, which does not fail throughout the matches.

By the way, this time the Moroccans will not be spared from having problems, because Noussair Mazraoui is out due to injury. Without the Bayern Munich player, Ashraf Hakimi will once again bear the load of quick attacks on the flanks. The team coped with the Portuguese, but the squad was not optimal. Either way, the tournament’s main sensation will make up for the loss of one player with excellent teamwork.

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France form guide: L-W-W-L-W-W

Morocco form guide: W-D-W-W-W-W

France vs Morocco Head-To-Head Record:

  • January 23, 1996: France 1-0 Morocco (Under-21 v A);
  • May 23, 1998: France 2-2 Morocco (King Hassan 2 Cup);
  • January 20, 1999: France 1-0 Morocco (International Friendly);
  • June 6, 2000: France 5-1 Morocco (Hassan 2 Tournament);
  • November 16, 2007: France 2-2 Morocco (International Friendly).

France vs Morocco Predicted XI:

France’s possible starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud.

Morocco’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Bono; Hakimi, El Yamiq, Aguerd, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.

Statistical preview of the match France vs Morocco:

  • France’s First XI average age is 27.9 yrs.
  • The French team is ranked 4th in the FIFA ranking.
  • The victory over England was the 13th in Didier Deschamps’ coaching career at the World Cups. Only Luis Felipe Scolari (14) and Helmut Schön (16) have more.
  • The French scored 11 goals at the World Cup in Qatar. Nine of them came from Kylian Mbappe (5) and Olivier Giroud (4).
  • In their last 12 meetings, France have only lost one match (against Tunisia).
  • France have conceded at least a goal in every match at the tournament.
  • In France’s last 13 official matches, there have been no more than 24 fouls in regular time.
  • Penalties have been awarded to France in their last two matches.
  • Morocco’s First XI average age is 27.9 yrs.
  • The Morocco team is ranked 22nd in the FIFA ranking.
  • Morocco are the first African team to win the World Cup play-offs in regular time.
  • Morocco have only conceded one goal in Qatar so far, and that was through an own goal.
  • Regragui’s team are only taking an average of 1.2 corners, and in four of their five matches, they have come to the corner flag no more than twice.
  • Morocco are unbeaten in 48 consecutive official matches.
  • César Ramos of Mexico was appointed referee of the game. He has served in 10 international matches in the last two years and has shown no violent approach. Only 2.3 yellow cards on average per game and no penalties.

What has been said before the match:

Didier Deschamps said:

“Hope, we can find a solution to break down their defense and score some goals. But it is not only the defense, but they are a strong side as a whole otherwise they would have not reached here”.

“They have got some very good playmakers and we have been watching them closely. We are trying to find something and make a strategy to score a goal against them. We are going to break their defense down”.

“I don’t like to compare my teams. Some of the players have changed and some are missing because of injuries. But we have managed to reach the semi-finals, which means we are a strong team. We played against big teams and defeated them to reach here. I have some young players to choose from and they mingle with the experienced ones which makes the squad well-balanced”.

“Waleed has done an exceptional job. It is a fantastic achievement for him and his team. We are analyzing their matches closely and looking at the statistics”.

“I know it is going to be a bit noisy there tomorrow and they have great support here but that is the part and parcel of the game and as a professional we should be used to playing in such conditions. Such things cannot stop from scoring a goal. And you should be prepared for it”.

Walid Regragui said:

“I have been saying it since the start, our dream is to win the World Cup, the more we advance … the closer we approach our dream. We will fight tomorrow to go further”.

“The further we go in the tournament, the more difficult the games are.We are going to play with the world champions, with some world-class players and a very good coach, perhaps the best in the world. But we are going to focus on what we do well, show great desire and try to pull off an upset. Why not reach the final of the World Cup?”

“We are very ambitious and we are hungry. I don’t know if that’s going to be enough but it could be because we have a great spirit, we’re very confident and we are determined to rewrite the history books. We want Africa to be on top of the world”.

“You may say I am mad, I am crazy, but I think a bit of craziness is good.”

“We are one of the best four teams in the world now. We haven’t reached this stage by chance so we are going to give everything to reach the final”.

France vs Morocco Prediction:

The second World Cup semi-final in Qatar does not promise much intrigue, but it will certainly not make you bored. France are aiming for a second successive final, but will now face the most organized team of the tournament. The Moroccans are impeccable in defense, but their clean-sheet streak (excluding their own goal) should come to an end. Regragui’s defense is not made up of world-class players, and they have made mistakes in previous games as well – but their opponents have been short of luck and, at times, of accuracy in order to score.

France will have no such problems – the Tricolours have created plenty of chances in every game at the tournament and have scored fewer than two goals in just one meeting (in a meaningless one against Tunisia). The loss of two key players will also have a negative impact on the quality of the Africans’ game.

Parimatch News staff prediction:

We say: France to win and the match total to be over 1.5 – Yes.

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