Morocco have been the most inspirational team to have come out of the Qatar World Cup 2022. Their story is probably the most feel-good story of the entire competition. Before the competition began, not many predicted the North-African side to make it out of the group stages – let alone make it to the semi-finals. They’re the first African team to have made the World Cup quarter-finals and are setting records with an amazing run. But next up is a dance with defending champions France. It’s their biggest challenge yet. Can Morocco pull off another upset to become the first ever team to represent Africa in a World Cup final?
How Can Morocco Defeat France to Continue World Cup Dream
Morocco’s tactics and performances so far
Morocco’s road to the World Cup semis has not been a fluke at all. They’ve had to work and grind their way to the final four. Of course, they haven’t completely dominated their matches so far and have not scored a lot of goals either. But what Morocco has been is efficient.
In their five World Cup games so far, they have scored just five goals – but conceded just one goal! Indeed, the African side has the best defensive record in the competition – with their only goal being conceded in the 2-1 win over Canada in their final group game. Morocco manager Walid Regragui definitely deserves praise for how well he’s structured his side for being such a tough team to unlock for even the biggest of opposition.
Their tactics haven’t been anything revolutionary, with Regragui opting to play a 4-3-3 formation that helps add that perfect balance of attacking prowess and defensive sturdiness. Their major strength has, of course, been their backline. Despite injuries to multiple defenders in the World Cup, they’ve still maintained incredible consistency in churning out clean sheets.
Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou has been one of the breakout stars of the World Cup. He’s kept four clean sheets and played a huge role in their heroics. The Sevilla man has been a maverick in goal, coming up with incredible saves time and again to frustrate opposition attackers. However, their backline also deserves a lot of praise. PSG defender Achraf Hakimi has proven his quality by churning out impressive performances all throughout the performances, annoying attackers and also adding attacking depth.
Wolves defender Romain Saiss has maintained a rock-solid backline and has been a key part of their success. Their midfielder Sofyan Ambrabat has added physicality and aggression to their game-play, hassling opposition players at every opportunity. Morocco’s plan is to sit deep and invite opposition sides to try and unlock their defense, which some of the best teams have found difficult to do. When they do, Bono is there to make clutch saves.
When it comes to their attacking, Morocco are fearless in piling many men forward to help trouble the opposition players. Hakim Ziyech has been a revelation with his amazing crosses, set-piece threat and ruthlessness in this tournament – while Sofiane Boufal’s earned a reputation for being a terrorizing dribbler. Striker Youssef El-Nesyri has been the ideal target man, converting chances emphatically and being a thorn with his dynamic presence in the box.
Morocco love to barge forward in counter-attacks and use wing-play to their advantage. The majority of chances happen through the wings, with dangerous crosses sent in to trouble teams. Ziyech’s impressive delivery also ensures they hold a formidable threat in set-pieces.
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How does their quality match up against France?
There probably can’t be a bigger polar opposite in this World Cup than that between Morocco and France. The defending champions are packed with world-class talents, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann in splendid form. In terms of attacking prowess, Les Bleus probably blow their opponents out of the water – even though Ziyech has been more prolific than Ousmane Dembele in this tournament.
But the other parts of the pitch can be up for debate. Defensively, at least, Morocco have been better than every team at the World Cup. Conceding just one goal in five games is an incredible achievement. Achraf Hakimi’s been more impactful than Jules Kounde and Romain Saiss sturdier than Dayot Upamecano. Morocco have seen their other defenders rotated, but Bono is the undisputed best goalkeeper of this tournament and performed much better than Hugo Lloris.
In terms of the midfield battle, Amrabat has probably been as good as the inspired Tchouameni – despite the lack of goals. Azzedine Ounahi and Adrien Rabiot have both been driving forces in the middle and added more creativity to the attack. Antoine Griezmann has been among France’s best players, so comparing Selim Amallah with him would only ensure the Frenchman wins that debate.
Morocco have to expect a bit of a miracle to defeat France, but it’s not only been lady luck that has guided them to the semi-finals so far. To have a chance at winning, they will have to neutralize France’s attacking threat. That means marking the likes of Mbappe, Giroud and Griezmann out of the game. They’ll probably have to put multiple bodies to double up on the PSG winger – while using some dirty tactics and fouls to unnerve Giroud.
But they can’t just rely on parking the bus and try to drag the game to penalties to get the win. Regregui has to motivate his side to show their character and be fearless. That involves troubling France’s backline with quick, clever counter-attacks and looking to win set-pieces in key areas to trouble them with. Lloris already has a reputation for fumbling crosses and corners, so Morocco have to use that weakness to their advantage and lob long balls that their players need to get at the end of.
In the end, the task is too big for Morocco. They’re struggling with injury issues and will miss some key players for this one. France’s incredible depth in options and experience should help them get a narrow win to end the African side’s fairy-tale journey.