World Cup holders France face Africa’s first-ever semi-finalists Morocco in Wednesday’s last-four clash in Qatar. AFP Sport looks at some of the keys to the game.
Morocco have conceded just one goal in the entire tournament — an own goal in their 2-1 win over Canada in the group stage — with Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal all failing to breach a rock-solid back line.
But France boast multiple goal threats. Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud have scored nine goals between them and Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann will also ask plenty of questions.
Morocco have a number of fitness concerns in their defence — centre-back Nayef Aguerd missed the Portugal game with a muscle injury and his regular partner, Romain Saiss, was substituted with a repeat of a hamstring injury.
It is likely that France will enjoy plenty of possesion in the Moroccan half but they will have to guard against swift counter-attacks.
Morocco’s style is direct and while they tend to focus on the flanks, with Hakim Ziyech on the right and Sofiane Boufal on the left, they can also go long to striker Youssef En-Nesyri and then scamper forward in support.
France’s full-backs Jules Kounde and Theo Hernandez can expect a busy night, while Morocco will look to take advantage of any slip-ups from centre-half Dayot Upamecano, who had some shaky moments against England.
“We are well aware of their qualities, even if they don’t often have possession,” said Kounde. “They are very efficient with the ball, they try to combine quickly and find their wide players.”
Morocco spent a huge amount of energy in their wins against Spain and Portugal and with some players carrying injuries, Wednesday’s game will be a real test of their durability and stamina.
The match against Spain went to penalties while they faced a frantic second half against Portugal.
France, in contrast, have been able to take care of their knockout games without any extra-time and should be much fresher.
Didier Deschamps’ men will seek to exploit their fitnees advantage by making Morocco work hard without the ball, switching play and forcing Regragui’s team to chase the ball, especially in the early stages.
France have fewer injury concerns and more attacking weapons but Morocco will have the crowd behind them at the Al Bayt Stadium, urging them to pull off another upset.