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Morocco FWC 2022 Qatar fairytale run ends as France defends title

France beat Argentina 4-3 in the last 16 en route to the 2018 title, after losing the first two World Cup dates between the two in 1930 and 1978. Read More

Thursday December 15, 2022 11:43 AM, IANS

Morocco FWC 2022 Qatar fairytale run ends as France defends title

Doha: Reigning world champions France scored once in each half to overcome a spirited challenge of Morocco on Wednesday night at Al Bayt Stadium to set up a FIFA World Cup final showdown with Argentina on Sunday.

The Les Bleus took the lead through Theo Hernandez's scrambled fifth minute goal. Randal Kolo Muani wrapped up matters in the 79th, less than a minute after coming on, after a fine solo from Kylian Mbappe.

France eyes back-to-back FWC titles

France ended the fairytale run of the Atlas Lions in the tournament, with Dider Deschamps side bidding to become the first team in 60 years to win back-to-back titles. Only Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962 have clinched back-to-back titles.

France vs Morocco

France is the sixth nation to reach successive World Cup finals, the others being Italy (1934, 1938), Brazil (twice: 1958, 1962 and 1994, 1998, 2002), the Netherlands (1974, 1978), West Germany (1982, 1986, 1990) and Argentina (1986, 1990).

Should France win, Didier Deschamps - who was a player when France won their first title in 1998 - will join Italy's Vittorio Pozzo as the only coach to win two World Cups in a row.

 

The 1978 and 1986 champions Argentina beat 2018 runners-up Croatia 3-0 in the first semi-final on Tuesday and Lionel Messi now hopes for the trophy in his fifth and final attempt in what will be a big duel with his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Mbappe.

France beat Argentina 4-3 in the last 16 en route to the 2018 title, after losing the first two World Cup dates between the two in 1930 and 1978.

Morocco vs. Croatia to play for 3rd place

Morocco and Croatia will play for third place on Saturday.

On Wednesday night Morocco, backed by their legion of supporters, who outnumbered France, were pushed all the way by World Cup wildcards. The scoreline belies their performance and how close the game was.

The first African side to reach a World Cup semi-final refused to buckle despite suffering the early blows of losing key defender Nayef Aguerd to injury after he was named in the starting line-up, and then an early goal.

France's key player continued to be Antoine Griezmann's and his reinvention as a playmaker has been a hot topic of the World Cup. His sharp movements create space for others to run into and also ensure he's always available to receive the ball. France's player of the tournament without any doubt.

Mbappe's shot from near the penalty box was blocked but the deflection fell to Hernandez at the far post, who acrobatically lashed the ball home to net in a scrappy goal, 1-0.

The reigning world champions threatened on several occasions to extend their lead, but Morocco managed to pose problems too, particularly in an excellent period just before the interval, which saw the Atlas Lions create a string of goal-scoring opportunities.

Morocco vs France

Morocco responded well to the early goal and had France on the ropes in the early part of the second half. They were competitive and didn't shy away from playing their game against the defending champions.

It was left to the brilliance of Mbappe to break open the Morocco defense for the second time in the match.

Mbappe remarkably weaved his way past a clutter of legs in the box and gets a shot away, but it's blocked. The deflection falls to Kolo Muani, who taps in from close range with his first touch of the game, 2-0.

France have rarely stepped out of second gear in this World Cup. Barring certain periods like in Wednesday's match and in the quarterfinal against England - they've rarely had to dig deep in games. Despite being wrecked by injuries; they've continued to march on.

The final thus will be showdown between Mbappe and Messi, a match within a match.

French President, Coach Celebrate

France coach Didier Deschamps praised his players after a 2-0 win over Morocco in the second World Cup semifinal booked them a place in Sunday's final.

France will play Argentina, looking to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win consecutive World Cups.

"There's emotion, there's pride, there's going to be a final step," said Deschamps on French TV after the final whistle.

The coach admitted that it had been a difficult game against Morocco, who had over 60 percent of the ball, news agency Xinhua reported.

"We have been together with the players for a month and it's never easy, but there's happiness so far," he said.

Morocco

[Morocco, you lost the match but won the heart. A team full of Arabs and Migrants defeated Morocco, general reactions after the match.]

Man-of-the-Match, Antoine Griezmann said he was "already thinking about Sunday's final" against Argentina,

"We will have to be focused, recover well and prepare for Sunday's match," he added, before praising Lionel Messi.

"When a team has Leo with them, it's completely different. We have seen almost all their (Argentina's) matches, we know how they play. They are a very difficult team and they are in a good place.

"They are a group that gets on well with each other like us and they will have their supporters with them," commented Griezmann.

The forward also had praise for Morocco. "They impressed me, they worked very well tactically, defensively and offensively. They gave us a lot of problems," he concluded.

French President Emmanuel Macron watched the match from the stands and celebrated France's win.

"Our compatriots need simple and pure joy, sport provides it and soccer in particular. We suffered a lot but we saw a great team. A huge thank you to our coach and to this team which is in fact a mixture of several generations and that is what is great," commented Macron.

 

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