Lucky11| FIFA World Cup Semi-Final 2: France Vs Morocco
Trailblazers in Africa Morocco will attempt to extend their enthralling World Cup 2022 ride when they meet current holders France in Wednesday's semi-final at the Al Bayt Stadium.
The Atlas Lions defeated Portugal 1-0 to go to the final four, while Les Bleus defeated a tenacious England team 2-1 to keep their hopes of back-to-back titles alive. The winner will face either Argentina or Croatia in the final.
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France's Journey to Semi-Finals
A missed Harry Kane penalty is a football collector's item, and France was the "fortunate" receiver of such good fortune, according to Didier Deschamps, as the defending champions kept England from bringing football home in a historic quarter-final.
France won thanks to Aurelien Tchouameni's thunderbolt and Olivier Giroud's header on either side of a precise Kane penalty, however, Bleus fans were pleased and startled when the England captain blazed a second spot shot over the bar.
France had to suffer a late Marcus Rashford free kick that nestled onto the roof of the net, and referee Wilton Sampaio was also embroiled in controversy, but a spot in the semi-final was entirely merited for a Bleus side with back-to-back title dreams.
Les Bleus failed to win any of their first three World Cup semi-finals, but they have since won three in a row in 1998, 2006, and 2018. It has been 84 years since a European nation reached the World Cup final as reigning champions, with the Italian luminaries of 1934 and 1938 being the most recent to do so.
Morocco's Journey To Semi-Finals
Whatever happens at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday, Morocco's current crop has already cemented their position in national and continental mythology as the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
Walid Regragui's stand-ins did excellently to keep A Selecao at bay, and a Youssef En-Nesyri header was all it needed for the Atlas Lions to make African history, despite being forced to deal without Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui against a Portugal team who hit Switzerland for six.
Morocco would be deserving finalists after taking maximum points against three international behemoths in Belgium, Spain, and Portugal, and the Atlas Lions enter the semi-final having remarkably kept opposing players from scoring throughout the tournament.
Aguerd's own goal against Canada is the only time Yassine Bounou has been beaten in Qatar - Regragui's side has otherwise kept four clean sheets - and the Moroccan fans should take comfort in this statistic, as the last two teams to keep five clean sheets in a single World Cup were Italy in 2006 and Spain in 2010.
Morocco's excellent defensive resilience was unaffected by their injury concerns against Portugal, but any further fitness issues in the backline will very certainly mean the end of their clean sheet streak and, more likely, their inspirational World Cup run.
Regragui's injured warriors may try to rush back for what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and a France team that has only needed Mbappe to start World Cup matches will not likely take advantage, so a second consecutive final should be on the menu for Les Bleus. Our sports betting experts predicts a 2-0 win for France.
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