Morocco to shock France to make first ever final
France are heavily favoured by most pundits to make a second successive World Cup final when they take on Morocco in the second semi at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Qatar. The victors know they'll be facing Argentina on Sunday, with the losers vying for third against Croatia in a much less prominent showpiece match. Les Bleus came through the quarter with England thanks to a mixture of a second Harry Kane penalty that was missed and more ruthlessness in vital moments, whereas The Atlas Lions put in a stirring performance to put out Portugal in normal time. Walid Regragui's charges have already made history by being the first African side to make the last four, and they have the ability to be within 90 minutes of lifting the trophy. Read our preview here:
Didier Deschamps has no injury concerns in his squad, which almost certainly means the XI that kicked off against the Three Lions will again take to the field. Naturally, Wednesday evening's opponents present a very different kind of challenge: more resolute in defence, more dogged in midfield, but less expansive in attack. Perhaps of more concern to the head coach will be the displays of Dayot Upamecano at the tournament. The Bayern Munich stopper hasn't looked assured at all, and has found himself often exposed thanks in part to Theo Hernández's natural inclination to bomb forwards on the left. Antoine Griezmann has once again been instrumental in a free role at recovering the ball and making things happen in the final third, easing the burden on the perpetually heavily marked Kylian Mbappé to conjure up moments of magic. Aurélien Tchouaméni scored a wonder goal from close to 35 yards out just days ago, but his most important job will be to help out Upamecano.
I Am what I am
Regragui will be sweating on the fitness of much of his first choice defence ahead of kick-off. Nayef Aguerd played no part in the previous encounter and doesn't look like making Wednesday either, whilst Romain Saïss choked off the threat of Gonçalo Ramos completely before departing the pitch with a knock. Achraf Dari, who plays in Ligue 1 for Brest, and Jawad El Yamiq are set to deputise, with the latter's height likely to be crucial in preventing Olivier Giroud being gifted free headers in the box. Achraf Hakimi will have one of the biggest challenges of his career up against Mbappé, but he'll also be aware that there is some room to get beyond him and Hernández if his teammates can progress with the ball. Walid Cheddira is suspended after the forward picked up two quick yellows in the Portugal game, but was only likely to be a substitute for this one anyway. The front all work very hard on and off the ball, and Hakimi will work in tandem with Hakim Ziyech to make their more vaunted opposition think very carefully about committing too many men forwards.
Having bested the likes of Belgium, Spain, and Portugal on their way to the semi-finals, Morocco are well equipped against elite European opposition. Arguably, France are more 'complete' than any of those three, but are far from infallible despite their depth and the likes of Mbappé and Giroud up top. Casumo have odds of 3.95 for Morocco to reach dreamland and make the final.