The Road to the Semi-finals
‘Les Bleus’ are the favourites to win the World Cup. Before a ball was kicked, France was up there with the favourites but given the absence of many star players, such as Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kanté, they were not over hyped. However, as the tournament has progressed, France have shown that they are more than capable of winning the World Cup for a second successive time.
Throughout World Cup history, there has only ever been two instances where the world champions have defended their trophy. The first nation to ever win two World Cup trophies in a row was Italy in 1934 and 1938. Several decades later, Brazil became the second nation to achieve the feat when they won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups. In the 1958 World Cup, Pelé scored a goal in the final, becoming the only teenager to do so.
Of course, Pelé was the only teenager to ever score in a World Cup final until 2018, when Frenchman Kylian Mbappé scored in the 4-2 win over Croatia. France has a good chance of winning the World Cup again, particularly as the top goal scorer at the tournament is Mbappé with five goals.
Les Bleus started their campaign with two wins over Australia and Denmark to secure qualification to the round of 16. They lost their final group stage match against Tunisia but still finished in first place. In the round of 16, France was drawn against Poland. The French team defeated Poland comfortably by scoring three goals to one. Mbappé scored two on the night.
In the quarterfinals, France played against England. It was a tougher test and certainly a fierce match for both teams. In the first half, Les Bleus took the lead through a strike from Aurélien Tchouaméni. Harry Kane equalised for the ‘Three Lions’ in the second half after converting his penalty. However, the final die was cast when Olivier Giroud rose to meet a cross and head the ball into the back of the net. Kane had a chance to score a second penalty with five minutes to go but blasted the ball over the goal. The result ensured that France advance to the semi-finals for the second tournament in a row as the team look to defend their trophy.
One of the fairy-tale stories of the 2022 Qatar World Cup is Morocco. ‘The Atlas Lions’ have advanced to the World Cup semi-finals for the first time. In fact, they are the first African and Arabic nation to ever reach this stage of the competition. Morocco finished first in Group F, which included Croatia, Belgium and Canada. Croatia are the other semi-finalists in the tournament, which is a massive complement to the Moroccan national team.
The snazzily dressed Walid Regragui manages Morocco. The manager has shown his faith in captain and leader Romain Saïss. He has created a resolutely stout defence that also features creative talents in Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi.
In the first match of the tournament, Morocco drew nil-nil with Croatia. The Atlas Lions then won two games in a row, beating Belgium and Canada 2-0 and 2-1, respectively. They finished top of their group with seven points.
The round of 16 was a difficult tie for Morocco as they faced Spain, their nearly neighbouring country. After 120 minutes of chances but no goals, the tie was decided on penalties. Bono, the Moroccan goalkeeper displayed a magnificent performance to save a few spot kicks. The penalties finished 3-0, with Hakimi scoring the ultimate kick. The young Paris Saint Germain defender kept his cool by slotting home a ‘panenka’ style spot kick.
In the quarterfinal, Morocco was drawn with Portugal, who had just defeated Switzerland 6-1 in their knockout round fixture. Yet again, the Moroccan team showed fantastic resilience to keep a clean sheet. Towards the end of the first half, The Atlas Lions took the lead through Youssef En-Nesyri. His lone goal was enough to send Morocco to the semi-finals for the first time, making history in the process.
Current Odds at mr.play
At mr.play and other online bookmakers, France are favourites to win the match with odds 1.48. A bet on Morocco to win would pay 7.10 times your stake whilst a draw pays out at 3.80.
There are several betting markets for fans to wager on, in case they do not want to bet on the result. For instance, the odds of over 1.5 goals in the match are 1.38 whilst the odds of both teams scoring are 2.39.
If you prefer to play it safe, you may want to place a double chance bet. The odds of France winning or drawing are 1.08 whilst the odds of Morocco winning or drawing are 2.54. The odds of either France or Morocco to win are 1.24.
Team Overview & Player Profile
The French national team have a fantastic chance of reaching the World Cup final for the second time in a row. They are currently placed as 4th in the FIFA rankings against Morocco who are 22nd. The star player for France is Kylian Mbappé.
In the group stage and round of 16, Mbappé proved his worth by scoring the winning goals against Denmark and Poland. The French national team has is a well-drilled side that have many players that can put in a performance. Although Mbappé is the headline grabber, Olivier Giroud is just as important with four goals to his name.
The Atlas Lions have proved that they deserve to be World Cup semi-finalists. It is true that the team does not have as many standout names as the French side, but the Moroccan national team is a compact unit. The player is aggressive in their challenges and take after the strong personality that Regragui displays on the touchline.
There are three standout players for the Moroccan national team. The first of them is Chelsea Hakim Ziyech, who has scored for the side and is the spark to make things happen. Achraf Hakimi of PSG is the most talented player on the pitch and has the commitment it takes to lead his side to victory. And finally, Morocco would not have reached the semi-finals of the World Cup if not for the goalkeeping heroics of Bono.
A Semi-Final to Look Forward To
This will be the first time that the national football teams of Morocco and France play against each other. France are the clear favourites to win but it would be unwise to write off Morocco. If the tie goes to penalties, it is difficult to see past Morocco advancing to the final.