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World Cup: France v Morocco semi-final preview

France and Morocco find themselves potentially just 90 minutes away from reaching the World Cup final when they meet in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

It’s a David v Goliath semi-final encounter, with the reigning world champions France taking on the surprise package of the tournament in the form of Morocco.

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 14/5, Morocco 13/2

Reigning champions came through sternest test

France’s title defence, after their success in Russia four years ago, was put to its sternest test last time out as they managed to edge out a 2-1 victory over England in the quarter-finals.

Surviving a late penalty miss from England skipper Harry Kane, France progressed through to the last four thanks to goals from Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud.

Didier Deschamps’ side found themselves on the back foot for much of the second half against the Three Lions, but still managed to prevail in Al Khor.

Back at the scene of that victory at Al Bayt Stadium, France will be looking for a more accomplished performance against Morocco, with Les Bleus favourites at 8/15 to win in 90 minutes.

Morocco flying the flag for Africa

Every World Cup has a surprise package. Back in 2018 it was Croatia who raised eyebrows by reaching the final, while this year it’s the turn of Morocco, who have become the first team from Africa to make the last four.

In a group which included Croatia, Belgium and Canada, few gave Morocco much of a chance of progressing, never mind reaching the semi-finals.

Helping to send Belgium’s so-called “Golden Generation” packing from the World Cup, the Atlas Lions then sent former champions Spain home early in the last-16.

A 1-0 win over Portugal in the quarter-finals to end Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes of getting his hands on the World Cup, has seen Morocco go on an incredible journey to the last four of the competition in the Middle East.

Morocco to spring another shock and beat France in regulation time is available at 13/2, while the draw to take the match into extra-time and possibly penalties is 14/5.

The Moroccans are 10/3 to qualify, while France to make it through to back-to-back finals is available at 2/9.

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Mbappe grabs headlines while Giroud impresses

With five goals to his name and leading the scoring standings at the World Cup, Kylian Mbappe has been earning plenty of plaudits for his efforts in Qatar.

However, Mbappe’s strike partner Giroud also deserves great credit for his performances in the Middle East this winter.

With four goals to his name, including what turned out to be the winner against England in the quarter-finals, Giroud continues to shine at the highest level.

Tipped for a new contract at AC Milan after the World Cup, the 36-year-old still looks to have plenty of goals in him before he decides to eventually hang up his boots.

The former Arsenal and Chelsea forward is 9/2 to score the opening goal of the game and 5/4 in the Anytime Goalscorer market.

Goals could be at a premium

While France are blessed with an abundance of quality in attack, Morocco’s success at this World Cup has been founded on a strong defence.

Looking to keep games as tight as possible and trying to hit opponents on the counter, Morocco have proved to be a tough team to conquer.

Keeping four clean sheets at this World Cup, Morocco have only conceded one goal at this competition so far and even that was an own goal from Nayef Aguerd against Canada in the group stages.

And the pedigree of the team they have kept out is undeniable, with Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal unable to break them down.

With Morocco’s ability to keep games tight, this encounter at Al Khor might well go down to the wire once again.

The Goals Over/Under market has under 2.5 goals available at 4/6 and that is certainly worthy of consideration.

France are understandably favourites going into this game, but Les Bleus would do well to take note of how Belgium, Spain and Portugal succumbed to Morocco’s gameplan.

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