French will be the biggest opponent for Morocco's World Cup Dream

Soccer news Dec 13, 2022

Morocco's miraculous World Cup journey is poised to face its biggest challenge.

Against France, the current World Cup champions, and their star striker Kylian Mbappé, the first of a new generation of soccer superstars after the age of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Africa will play in its first World Cup semifinal.

Cultural and historical significance abounds in Wednesday's encounter since the French ruled Morocco from 1912 until 1956. However, the result is far from a predetermined conclusion, as many would assume based on the players' names and the teams' respective rankings.

After shocking everyone by defeating then-ranked #2 Belgium in the group stage, Morocco went on to eliminate European powerhouses Spain and Portugal in the elimination round to go to the semifinals in Qatar.

Nobody from Africa or the Middle East has ever made it this far.

There hasn't been a bigger narrative in the 92 years of the World Cup, and Morocco isn't even through yet.

"When someone asked me whether I thought we might win the World Cup, I said, 'Why not?'" The French-born coach of the Moroccan national team, Walid Regragui, once famously said, "We may dream; it doesn't cost you anything to have aspirations." We have not had an easy run, but European teams are accustomed to winning the World Cup, and we have faced great sides. Right now, we have enough power to make our opponents tremble.

And France?

The reigning champions have got through their difficult test, a quarterfinal encounter against England in which Mbappé was unusually silent.

Mbappé will find it difficult to add to his World Cup goal total against a Moroccan defense that has not allowed a goal in any of its nine games since Regragui was appointed in August. No player has scored more than five goals. While playing Canada in the group stage, defender Nayef Aguero scored his own goal.

Even though Aguero and teammate center defender Romain Saiss might be out on Wednesday due to injury, Regragui's game plan depends more on the team's overall form and discipline than on any player's abilities.

With French President Emmanuel Macron and tens of thousands of green and red-clad Morocco supporters in attendance at Al Bayt Stadium, France confronts an incredibly difficult challenge of breaking down Morocco. The players from Morocco will be playing at home, which might give them an extra boost.

However, France is the early favorite, given their star power and history. The squad has two of the tournament's best players in Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann, a striker who has reinvented himself as a midfield creator in the World Cup, and Olivier Giroud, who tied Lionel Messi with four goals after scoring the game-winning goal against England.

They face attacks from all sides and lack the intangible "it factor" that would make a difference. Center-back for France Raphael Varane assured that his teammates would not be complacent against the world's No. 22 rated side.

The crew "has enough experience to avoid falling into that trap," he added. The presence of Morocco in this region is not coincidental. As seasoned veterans, we must ensure that everyone is ready for the next fight.

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