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France v Morocco - James Milton's World Cup semi-final betting tips

France ended England's World Cup dream on Saturday and Racing Post football expert James Milton expects them to outclass surprise semi-finalists Morocco on Wednesday.

Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps was grateful for Harry Kane's late penalty miss in the quarter-final, but his formidable attackers should prove too sharp for a weary Morocco side who have had to dig deep in their shock knockout victories over Spain and Portugal.

What: France v Morocco, World Cup semi-final
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar
When: 19:00, Wednesday 14th December
How to watch: BBC One
Odds: France 8/15, Draw 11/4, Morocco 7/1

France look formidable despite lack of clean sheets

World champions France started the defence of their title under something of a cloud after a dismal 2022/23 Nations League campaign and injuries to senior players Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante.

In their opening group game, Les Bleus found themselves 1-0 down to Australia inside nine minutes but they roared back to win 4-1 and they were good value for that scoreline, as forwards Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele racked up 17 shots at goal between them.

That quartet has been a constant menace to France's opponents, with Mbappe scoring five goals, Giroud finding the net four times, and Griezmann flourishing in a deeper playmaker role.

France are 8/15 in the Full Time Result market with Morocco 7/1 and the draw 11/4 and it would take an extraordinary effort from the Atlas Lions to keep the favourites quiet for 90 minutes.

Morocco's forwards may be encouraged by the fact that their opponents have kept only one clean sheet in their last 11 matches. France are 10/3 in the Result/Both Teams To Score market and they have conceded a goal in all four of their wins at this World Cup, against Australia, Denmark, Poland and England.

The only blot on the holders' record in Qatar was a 1-0 loss to Tunisia in their final Group D match although Deschamps made nine changes to his starting line-up with qualification already assured. A 1-0 Morocco victory in the semi-final can be backed at 16/1.

Morocco defence aim to extend incredible record

Morocco arrived at the World Cup on a run of four consecutive clean sheets, against Liberia, Chile, Paraguay and Georgia, but even their most optimistic supporters couldn't have imagined how well they would defend at the finals.

Croatia, beaten by France in the 2018 final, were restricted to just five shots at goal in Morocco's goalless opener and Belgium had three efforts on target in a 2-0 defeat to the Atlas Lions on matchday two.

In the knockout stages, Spain managed one shot on target in 120 minutes before losing 3-0 on penalties and Portugal, who had thumped Switzerland 6-1 in the previous round, were beaten 1-0 by Morocco in the quarter-finals.

The only goal conceded by Yassine Bounou at this tournament was an own goal by centre-back Nayef Aguerd in the group victory over Canada and Sevilla goalkeeper Bounou is 10/1 to help Morocco win to nil against France.

Bounou is 8/1 to be named Man of the Match in a market headed by the in-form Mbappe at 1/1, although punters anticipating an upset should consider Morocco's inspirational right-back Achraf Hakimi, a Paris St-Germain team-mate of Mbappe, at 25/1.

French midfield could test Morocco's reshuffled rearguard

The team news does not make for happy reading for Morocco fans as they could be missing three of their first-choice back four.

West Ham centre-back Aguerd and Bayern Munich left-back Noussair Mazraou missed the Portugal game through injury and could be sidelined again, along with defensive rock Romain Saiss, forced off with a hamstring problem in the quarter-final.

Stopping France with a full-strength defence would be difficult, but doing it with a reshuffled rearguard is likely to be beyond the underdogs, who will look to defend deep against the pace of Mbappe and Dembele.

That could mean chances for France's midfielders to try their luck from distance, as Aurelien Tchouameni did to great effect with a long-range opener against England.

In the Player Shots on Target market, Tchouameni is 2/1 to have over 0.5 shots on target and his midfield colleague Adrien Rabiot, who scored France's first goal of the World Cup against Australia, is 11/8.

France have been leading at half-time in three of their four wins at this tournament and an early goal for the favourites would be a huge blow to Morocco's gameplan.

The Atlas Lions would not be comfortable having to chase the game against Mbappe and the rest of the French forwards and over 2.5 France goals appeals at 5/2 in the Team Total Goals market.

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