The France versus Morocco semi-final was a classic David versus Goliath battle. France, the defending champions were the odds-on favourites to secure a place in the finals but Morocco were unbeaten and have already upset the likes of Belgium, Spain and Portugal.
The game would also be the last time the Al Bayt stadium will host a game in this 2022 World Cup edition. France started off the stronger of the two and took an early lead via Theo Hernandez. Hernandez pounced on a loose ball and gave France the lead in the 5th minute of play.
This was the first time in the entire tournament that Morocco had conceded a goal to their opponents. The only other goal conceded was an own goal in their group match versus Canada. This early goal put Morocco on the back foot and they had to come out and search for an equaliser.
For the most part of the first half, Morocco had the better chances but were unable to break through the French defence. When France did break free, their best chance fell to Olivier Giroud who could only hit the post after being put through by Aurelien Tchouameni.
Morocco’s captain Roman Saiss was substituted in the first half as he picked up an injury and was replaced by Selim Amallah. This substitution changed the game as Morocco pushed further forward as were nearly rewarded when Jawad El Yamiq attempted a brilliant overhead kick only to see it hit the post.
In the second half, Morocco continued their search for an equaliser but were leaving gaps at the back. France had two golden chances to put the game to bed early but a great save by Yassine Bounou from Kylian Mbappe and a mishit shot from Youssouf Fofana kept Morocco in the game.
As Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi continued to lead Morocco’s charge, their best opening they had was in the 54thminute. Ziyech broke free on the right and attempted a pass across goal to Youssef En-Nesyri who was open only to see the brilliant Ibrahima Konate block the pass with a sliding tackle.
France’s substitute Kolo Muani who was on the pitch for 44 seconds got the 2nd goal for France after Mbappe’s shot deflected kindly in his path. Mbappe took on 3 Moroccan defenders and still managed to get his shot off to create that goal.
With this win, France will play Argentina in the finals on Sunday and will look to being only the 3rd team in World Cup history to win back-to-back World Cup titles. The last team to do this was Brazil in 1962 in Chile.
Morocco on the other hand will play Croatia in the 3rd place playoff but can certainly hold their heads high for an amazing World Cup campaign. For a team that was ranked 22nd in the world to go on and beat Belgium (2nd), Spain (7th) and Portugal (9th) it was truly an impressive performance overall.
Morocco has also set the bar for African teams by being the first to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals. No doubt Argentina versus France is what most fans consider a dream final but all fans would have wanted for Morocco’s fairy tale run to continue.