France vs Morocco summary: score, goals, highlights | Qatar World Cup 2022
France vs Morocco: as it happened
Follow all the build-up and live match commentary as Argentina take on France in the 2022 World Cup final. Will Lionel Messi finally get his hands on the trophy, or will Kylian Mbappé become a two-time world champion at just 23?
Blistering start to the Croatia vs Morocco game for 3rd place. Follow it live with Joe!
Mbappé sent a heartfelt message to PSG teammate Achraf Hakimi telling him not to be sad after Morocco went out to France. Lovely gesture.
OK, that's all from me (Joe) tonight!
Thank you once again for following the AS USA coverage of the World Cup semi-final with me tonight, it's been a pleasure.
Two games left!
We've got Croatia vs Morocco first up on 17 December in the 3rd place playoff game...
And the the one we've been waiting for:
The World Cup Final, Argentina vs France, on 18 December.
Follow it all with AS USA!
News is coming out that Giroud suffered an injury when he clashed with the goalpost on 16 minutes.
As soon as more is known, we will have the news on en.as.com
Player ratings: Morocco
Bounou - 7
Hakimi - 8
El Yamiq - 7.5
Dari - 6.5
Saiss - 6
Mazraoui - 6.5
Amrabat - 8.5
Ounahi - 8.5
Ziyech - 8.5
En Nesyri - 6.5
Boufal - 7
Amallah - 6.5
Abde - 7
Attiat-Allah - 7
Hamdallah - 5
Aboukhlal - 5
Player ratings: France
Lloris - 8
Kounde - 7
Varane - 8
Konate - 8.5
Theo Hdz - 7
Tchouameni - 7.5
Fofana - 6.5
Dembele - 6
Griezmann - 9 (MVP)
Mbappe - 7
Giroud - 6
Thuram - 7.5
Kolo Muani - 6.5
Griezmann's stats from the game:
The Atlético Madrid midfielder won the MVP award for the game, and quite rightly so.
- 90 minutes played
- 9 recoveries
- 2 interceptions
- 3 clearances
- 7/12 duels won
- 4 key passes
- 0 shots
Griezmann has shown a completely different side to the one we knew before this tournament, as these stats show.
He has taken up a position further back on the pitch and has still been able to show his class in the construction of play and even getting crucial numbers for France in terms of the 'dirty work'. What a fantastic player.
We had a lot of players injured, some that were ruled out in training and some that were ruled out close to or during the game. Obviously this didn't help us but it's not an excuse.
We have shown that Moroccan football exists, and we have amazing fans.
We aren't as far away from being able to compete at the top level as was thought.
So, are we ready for these two to do battle?
The present vs the future.
Messi vs Mbappé.
Argentina vs France.
And you will be able to follow the final live with AS!
Amrabat goes out on a high... number of recoveries
Amrabat was absolutely everywhere for the entire game. What a machine!
Is he the player of the tournament?
Who have you got for the final?
Both teams will be looking to add that 3rd star to their shirt, with France appearing in their 4th World Cup final in the last 7 editions of the tournament.
Argentina will wanted to make up for the 2014 failure, when they lost to Germany in extra-time. Messi has the weight of a nation on his shoulders, and he's never looked more comfortable.
And here is all the information you need on how to watch the game this Sunday.
What is France's World Cup final record? Check it out here.
Post match reaction also coming up...
Griezmann, the utlimate defender/midfielder/attacker
He was absolutely everywhere tonight, and kept Les Bleus' pulse above critical levels when Morocco had their foot pressed down on France's throat.
How Sofascore saw the game:
In the end, player talent and being clinical when the chances came along is what saw France through, which is quite an important aspect of play in tournament football.
Morocco go out with their heads held high; France are on the verge of history.
Huge cheers from all sides of the ground
Cheers and tears from Moroccan fans who applaud their players and manager as they perform a lap of appreciation around the ground.
At worst, they will finish fourth. A final game against Croatia awaits them on 17 December.
Morocco's fabulous story comes to an end...
Lovely scenes between the French players, who immediately console Bono and co. The sweetest thing.
Well, the Moroccan dream is over, but what an amazing story. And losing to the current World Champions is nothing to be frustrated by. France's squad is incredible and Morocco made us all fall in love with them and their football.
Maybe on another day, the chances fall on the other side of the post and we are looking at a different result, but nothing can be taken away from France, who are one game away from making history by becoming back-to-back World Cup champions.
FRANCE ARE THROUGH TO THE QATAR WORLD CUP 2022 FINAL!
THEY WILL PLAY ARGENTINA ON 18 DECEMBER.
France 2-0 Morocco
Into the last minute of added time.
OFF THE LINE! HAMDALLAH!
KOUNDÉ SAVED THE BALL OFF THE LINE!
Abde did amazingly well to break down the left and put a ball in for Ounahi, whose shot deflected to Hamdallah but he couldn't direct it past Koundé.
Ounahi slices a shot wide from the edge of the box.
Corner. Cleared away.
Mbappé puts the ball through Amrabat's legs before bursting into the box to complete what would have been a spectacular goal. Hakimi saves the day by sliding in.
Morocco continue to attack, pressing high and forcing France back. The atmosphere has sunk significantly at the Al Bayt Stadium.
6 minutes to be added on.
France, who hadn't kept a clean sheet in any game this tournament, look like they're about to do it today. We're into the last minute.
Hakimi does his best impression of a schoolchild that has been caught with sweets in class, putting on his best 'it wasn't me!' face for the referee, after pretending the ball didn't go out of play. It did.
Ziyech tries to roll the ball past Thuram on the right side of the box but he doesn't control the touch fully and it rolls out for a goal kick.
Griezmann, who has been everything tonight except the goalkeeper, heads away.
Handbags in the box between Konaté and El Yamiq. Varane runs to referee to tell him who's been a naughty boy.
Free-kick for Morocco out on the right... to be whipped in.
The African side are still trying to attack, but now France have got their swagger back and are holding them at arm's length.
Morocco look vulnerable now, Mbappé gets away down the left as soon as play is resumed.
A killer blow for Morocco, who had looked without a doubt the better side this half.
Mbappé did excellently to dip and dive around the challenges after receiving the ball from Thuram, and that's potentially one step too far for Morocco now.
Mbappé skipped past 4 red shirts inside the box before firing a low shot at Bono, who got down well to save.
Kolo Muani was there to tap the ball in and double the lead for Les Bleus.
Dembélé off for Kolo Muani.
Abde on for Amallah.
Hamdallah wastes another chance after he gets the ball on the left side next to the byline. He feints left and right about 30 times before rolling it out of play.
Hamdallah! He steals the ball high up the pitch but instead of shooting decides to run and run, eventually losing the ball.
That was a great chance to test the goalkeeper, and for some reason he declined to smack a shot towards goal.
Abde coming on...
Fofana hits a shot wide!
It was an awkward swing of the ball after Thuram slipped a pass into him on the left side.
Having said that, France are yet to fully test Bono in goal this half, In haven't had to look at my list of puns once.
It feel like the changes have killed Morocco's momentum a little, which is to be expected, given the comparative depth of talent on the two benches.
Thuram gets a head on the ball!
But it flies wide.
A dangerous free-kick for France, 30 yards out on the left. Thuram was clattered into by a defender after he tried to break away.
Griezmann to take...
Into the last 20 minutes of normal time.
France have looked slightly livelier in the past couple of minutes after Thuram has come on the pitch, but Morocco are far from giving up.
Free kick for France on the left side. Griezmann will send the ball in.
Close for France!
The ball fell to Koundé who tricked everyone who thought he was lining up a spectacular shot, instead slipping in Mbappé but it's called back for offside.
Aboukhlal almost makes an immediate impact!
Varane misjudged a header allowing a Moroccan attacker in behind to lift a cross towards Aboukhlal, but Lloris caught the ball.
EnNesyri and Boufal off for Aboukhlal and Hamdallah.
Mbappé has moved to centre-forward and Thuram is on the left.
Giroud off for Thuram
Changes are being prepared for both sides...
Dembélé fires in a hopeful cross to nobody. Morocco recover.
France have dropped back incredibly deep and Morocco are happy to push them back even further.
Boufal gets in behind but Griezmann clears the cross. At the moment, he is the only French player who is in the game.
Ah, Amrabat wins it back. Of course.
Griezmann buys his team some much-needed time after he's fouled by Attiat-Allah in the middle third of the pitch.
Griezmann's shot flies just wide but Mbappé was well offside in the build-up. It's all they've had so far.
France look desperate for answers: Griezmann is shouting at his teammates to help him press and Morocco look more and more comfortable in this game.
Pythagoras would have been proud of those amazing traingles that Morocco just put together to pinball around the French defence.
Hakimi, Ounahi, Ziyech: bang, bang, bang. The attack ends in a France defender taking the safest option and hoofing the ball very far away.
Ziyech and Hakimi are popping up everywhere, frantically pulling strings like two puppeteers, trying to find ways through the French defence.
SO CLOSE FROM MOROCCO!
Attiat-Allah gets down the left side and puts a low pass across the face of goal, En Nesyri waiting. Konaté comes in a hacks the ball away. What a performance so far from the centre-back.
Mbappé with a Bale-esque run down the left, travelling close to the speed of light he breaks away from everyone on the pitch and bursts towards the box on his own.
Somehow, Amrabat travels in time and pops up at his side just as the PSG forward is heading into the penalty area, sliding in fantastically.
Ziyech and Ounahi try to play a quick one-two on the right but it's cut out well by Theo.
Ziyech gets the ball on the right again, flicks it past Fofana before firing in a cross that's blocked by Konaté.
Mbappé goes to ground in the box but there's no foul. The Frenchman clashed with Bono after Griezmann played a pass into the space behind the defence.
Mabppé does excellently well to force his way down the left, burning past Amrabat.
His cross is too heavy and the attack leads to nothing.
Ounahi tries to play a ball through the thirds to Ziyech but the winger can't get a touch and Morocco lose possession.
Attiat-Allah on for Mazraoui
Second half underway!
The players are back out for the second half.
France will kick off next final 45 minutes: will we have a second World Cup 2022 finalist by 90?
Another stellar 45 from the Angers midfielder.
He's one of the reasons Morocco have looked so productive: Ounahi.
Reasons to be positive, Morocco fans
With 1.19, that was the highest xG of any of the first halves of football Morocco have played at the tournament!
FIFA's half-time entertainment
So, FIFA's choice of half-time entertainment is Trinidad and Tobago rapper, The Mad Stuntman. No?
The guy who sang 'I Like to Move It'. Now you know who I mean. And now you're singing it, too.
Don't worry, I'll throw in some U2 puns later to get it out of your head. Plenty of references for the kids tonight.
Here's that astonishing overhead kick from El Yamiq!
The Valladolid man nearly scored one of the goals of the tournament!
That got very tense at the end, there, after Morocco looked pretty downtrodden for most of the half. France went from looking like were going to win every World Cup until the Sun expanded and swallowed the world to a team that appeared to scared to get out of their own half.
In a half of two halves, it took Morocco a while to wake up and by that point they were already a goal down, but they're far from out of it as things stand and France will need a lot of half-time oranges to find the energy to compete against the Moroccan spirit.
And that's all for now!
HT: France 1-0 Morocco
Another free kick after Mbappé fouls on halfway..
Amallah almost reaches the ball but it rolls out.
Lloris punches away!
Free kick on the right for the African side. Ziyech steps up to whip it in...
Morocco look a different team, like their pre-match Weetabix has just kicked in now. They've got France pinned back in their own half and are attacking non-stop down the right.
Lloris drops the ball but gets down well to trap it. French panic over.
3 added minutes.
Wow, that was a huge gasp of breath from what feels like 1 million Morocco fans inside the stadium.
And they have another corner!
OVERHEAD KICK OFF THE POST!!!!
EL YAMIQ HIT THE BALL PERFECTLY. SO CLOSE
Hakimi makes a bursting run down the right and wins a corner after a very well-times challenge from Konaté.
Ziyech gives the ball away after a poor attempt to switch from right to left but thankfully Amrabat is there to re-steal the ball. Again.
France again look happy to wait patiently for an opening between the lines or in behind the Moroccan defence. Bono and his team are also trying to find holes in the French system, but they still haven't found...
A great challenge from El Yamiq inside the box stops Griezmann from getting in behind (again) down the right side of the pitch.
Corner... and Varane almost makes it 2-0 at the front post but his effort flies wide.
France are, little by little, controlling the balance of the game, trying to draw Morocco out and then pounce in behind.
Tchouameni played Mbappé in behind after a great run from midfield.
The striker's shot was saved and it bounced back to the Real Madrid midfielder who gave it immediately to Giroud inside the box, whose shot somehow went wide.
CHANCE FOR MBAPPÉ...
AND NOW FOR GIROUD
Fofana slices a shot high and wide after it bounces to him from a corner.
Just got another glance at that Dembélé slide challenge from earlier. I'm doing the Carlo Ancelotti eyebrow because that looked very close to being a card...
Theo does well to work it to Mbappé, who slides a pass to Fofana on the edge of the box. His shot rockets towards goal but it hits Giroud in the stomach.
Konaté does fantastically well to cut out a pass towards En-Nesyri.
Amrabat slipped a beautiful ball through the lines to Ounahi who tried to play the Sevilla forward in behind.
Clear offside given for Morocco but it came after nice build-up play. Positive steps for the African side.
Half an hour gone and not much to shout about other than the goal; France have looked better but that's because they have better players.
Morocco aren't out of this at all and maybe they can find an opening to get at the champions.
France are finding Griezmann well in the pockets of space that are being left behind the Morocco midfielders.
Theo Hernandez is back up after receiving treatment.
First yellow card of the night goes to Boufal, after he ran into Theo Hernandez. It looked painful, but I don't think it's worthy of a card; Dembélé's challenge that went unpunished a few minutes earlier was a lot more dangerous.
Dembélé absolutely slices into Ounahi, but Amrabat picks up the loose ball and continues the play.
Nope, the referee has called a foul.
We've had a few minutes now of lots of small fouls and no team is managing to hold onto the ball.
It's something that the Morocco fans obviously like, as they've just broken out into a huge chorus of chanting.
Boufal gets penalised for a foul on Theo Hernandez and Morocco miss out on a good chance to mount an attack down the right side.
That's a back four for Morocco now, and they return to their habitual 4-1-4-1, which had worked so well thrughout the tournament.
Saiss off for Amallah.
He's obviously not fit to play.
A free kick to Morocco stops a potential France attack, after nice work between Griezmann, Mbappé and Giroud.
So far, Morocco have let France in twice with sloppy errors and have nearly been punished on both occasions.
France look relentless and all the players have their serious faces on. They know that they can - and should - put the game to bed as soon as possible.
The Moroccan keeper knows what's coming... the first time he's been beaten by an opposition player at this World Cup.
GIROUD OFF THE POST!
A long ball came over from Lloris and Saiss missed it completely, allowing Giroud to run through and smack a shot off the left post.
The goal kick came after a great attack from Morocco and a lovely spin from Boufal, who slipped the ball to Ziyech but the shot was weak.
Cleared well by Konaté.
Dembélé tries to spring a counter attack towards Bono, but he is all alone. Sometimes you can't make it on your own, I guess.
Ziyech to whip in a free kick for Morocco after Mbappe fouled Hakimi near the halfway line.
Some fantastic possession from France: Koundé finds Tchouaméni who flicks it to Griezmann. A lovely touch around the corner from the Atlético Madrid man opens the play and France go from left to right in an instant. Oh là là.
WHAT A SAVE FROM LLORIS!
Ounahi with a curling effort from the edge of the box!
He found himself with time and space, thought 'why not?' and bent a whipped effort towards the bottom right corner. Lloris got a strong and grateful hand to it.
The African side have some possession and Ounahi opens up to Hakimi who had bombed down the right wing. The crowd responds with loud cheers - they still believe!
That's the first goal Morocco have conceded in the entire tournament and what a terrible time to do it... let's see if they can pick themselves up because it looks like the nerves have yet to calm down.
A DEFENSIVE MESS FOR MOROCCO
That was practically their first touches of the game. A ball was slipped in to Griezmann down the right channel and Theo Hernandez got on the end of a loose ball after it was missed by Mbappé and he jumped to tap it over Bono.
France 1-0 Morocco
Fofana steals the ball from Morocco but chief ball-recoverer Amrabat steals it back instantly.
So, its Dari in the middle of Saiss and Yamiq at the back, as Morocco have some early possession. France have now dropped off them and are sitting on the halfway line.
Dari has started in place of Aguerd, who has dropped out at the very last minute.
Not sure why just yet.
France are pushing right up on Morocco from the start, who try to cautiously play out from Bono.
And the second semi-final of the Qatar World Cup 2022 is underway!
Referee César Ramos conducts the coin toss and it will be Morocco who kick us off from right to left.
Now it's time for the national anthems...
France are up first! Lovely stuff, Varane did some lovely singing.
Morocco's anthem was spectacular. The manager was screaming at the top of his voice. Tears in the crowd from so many people, as you'd expect.
Anyway, time for the football!
The players are out of the tunnel and the noise is simply deafening. Huge cheers from all sides of the ground.
For the first time in history, an African nation steps onto the pitch of a World Cup semi-final.
10 minute warning!
It's Giant World Cup trophy and light show time!
The teams are patiently waiting in the tunnel... the second World Cup semi-final is almost here!
Let's run through the starting XIs again:
Koundé - Varane - Konaté - Theo
Griezmann - Tchouaméni - Fofana
Dembélé - Mbappé - Giroud
Hakimi - Aguerd - El Yamiq - Saiss - Mazraoui
Amrabat - Ounahi
Ziyech - En-Nesyri - Boufal
The Moroccan side are called the Atlas Lions, but what about the French? A rooster?
Well, it turns out that the symbolism of the rooster has quite the story behind it, as explained here.
Atlas Lions ready to roar again
Morocco are known as the Atlas Lions after the species of lion that lived across the top of Africa and was found in the Atlas Mountains, the range that runs across the top of Africa, through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
France came out of the tunnel a few minutes ago for their pre-match warmup and the crowd erupted into a frenzy of boos - you can really feel the atmosphere building from the 'home' side!
It's another obstacle that the French will have to overcome tonight, given the fact that Morocco have received support from both African and Arab nations.
The Atlas Lions came out of the dressing room shortly after and the stadium nearly shook with excitement! It feels like a sort of homecoming.
We will have to wait and see if FIFA have chosen a random 90s pop singer to come and give the stadium a real tournament feel.
With just one goal against them so far, how close are Morocco to breaking a record for the fewest goals conceded at a World Cup?
Do not make a Bono pun... do not make a Bono pun...
Allah, Al-Watan, Al-Malik... and Walid Regragui!!
The motto of Morocco is Allah, Al-Watan, Al-Malik, meaning God, the Country, the King... and to that list could probably already be added coach of the national team Walid Regragui.
Regragui was born in France, but as a player was a full international for Morocco, winning 45 caps for his country, before becoming a coach. He played for clubs including Toulouse, Ajaccio, Grenoble, Racing Santander and Moroccan outfit Moghreb Tétouan.
He was in charge of Wydad last season and led them to their third CAF Champions League title before taking over the Morocco national side on 31 August. Despite initial criticism he's led Morocco to the knockout stage for the first time since 1986, then become the fourth African nation and first Arab nation to reach the quarter-finals and is now the first African team and first Arab team to qualify for the semi-finals.
Allah, Al-Watan, Al-Malik... and Walid Regragui!!
When I said in the preview it was going to feel like a 'home game'...
It wasn't joking!
13,000 free tickets and 30 flights have been handed out to Moroccan fans so they can make the Al Bayt stadium a cauldron of noise! The 68,000 capacity of the stadium is going to be well over half-full of fans of the Atlas Lions!
Here's a sneaky look at the teamsheet
Rabiot is marked A (absent) along with Benzema and Lucas Hernández; Upamecano is on the bench for Les Bleus.
And we can see at the top that France will be wearing blue shirts, white shorts and red socks, while Morocco will be in Red shirts, green shorts and white socks. Lovely three-colour combinations tonight, which makes me a happy egg.
Here are the Sofascore ratings so far...
The boy Griezmann with the highest rating out of the 22 players so far - will that change tonight?
France starting XI confirmed!
It's pretty much what we expected...
Koundé - Varane - Konaté - Theo
Griezmann - Tchouaméni - Fofana
Dembélé - Mbappé - Giroud
Morocco team news in!
And it's an incredibly strong XI from the Atlas Lions!
Hakimi - Aguerd - Saiss - El Yamiq - Mazraoui
Amrabat - Ounahi
Ziyech - En-Nesyri - Boufal
Griezmann is excelling in his new role for Les Blues
Here's how Sofascore saw 'Grizi' in the game against England.
The Atlético Madrid midfielder is normally a mainstay in the attacking third of the pitch, but Didier Deschamps has managed to squeeze him in a bit further back, meaning he can contribute more in the dirtier side of the game, recovering the ball and starting movements from deep instead of finishing them off, which he can leave to Mbappé and Giroud.
World Cup semi-final preview:
Hear me out. Although it seems unfair given the way things have gone, it remains difficult to explain the potential tactical shape of tonight's game in any way other than saying France will have most of the ball and look to break down Morocco's (not low) defensive unit, while having to be uber-wary of the potential counter-attacks that fire like guided missiles at any given moment.
That is no slight on Morocco, who have perfected the art of defending away from their own goal and in such a manner that it allows them to harness the strengths of their squad and make precise, incisive moments in attack that have threatened and killed off some of the strongest teams at the tournament.
The key battle in tonight's game is, on paper, Kylian Mbappé against his good friend, Achraf Hakimi. France's wing wizard has reached a top speed at this World Cup of 35.3km/h, the exact same as his PSG teammate.
Mbappé also has the second-highest number of attempted take-ons in the tournament, and Hakimi has the highest number of tackles and successful defensive duels.
The Frenchman has scored 5 goals, sitting alongside Messi at the top of the goal-scorers Christmas tree but is way ahead of his potential final rival with 49 touches in the opposition box compared to the Argentinian, who has 37.
If Hakimi can slow him down, then that is one job well done, but it is not the end of the story.
France have a plethoraofattackingoptions at their disposal: if Mbappé doesn't get you, then Dembélé might, as well as Giroud. Griezmann has been reborn in the middle of midfield alongside Tchouaméni, who opened the scoring against England in the quarter-final.
Morocco have it all to do, and many have written them off. But the Al Bayt stadium may feel like a home ground for the African side this evening, and the fans might be the ones who push their depleted squad over the line.
The World Cup statistical story so far...
France are yet to keep a clean sheet in any of their 5 matches so far this tournament; Morocco have only conceded a single goal - and that was scored by their own player!
But, the last time France lost a semi-final was back in 1996 (vs Czech Republic on penalties); since then, they've won 5 in a row.
Will Bono have another beautiful day in goal or will France find what they are looking for?
No, I do not promise that is the last U2 pun I make.
And the dressing rooms are ready... once the teams arrive and the starting XI news is announced, we will let you know!
Get in touch!
If you'd like to get in touch and tell me just how much of a silly nelly I'm being, or how much you're enjoying this lovely time we're having together in the buildup to vs (it's like we're sat together in the stadium, sharing a blanket and a packet of crunchy biscuits), then you can get in touch via the comments or on Twitter, @English_AS and @j4brennan. Nice messages are welcome.
French record breakers:
Griezmann broke the all-time assist record (28) and Lloris broke the French national team appearance record (143) against England.
Will we see Antoine Griezmann take his tally even higher tonight against Morocco?
Here's the lowdown from Roddy on exactly what type of illness has struck the France squad in the buildup to their semi-final game.
Some early team news...
According to L'Équipe, it appears that Rabiot and Upamecano will not make the team and that France's starting XI against Morocco will be:
Koundé - Varane - Konaté - T. Hernandez
Y. Fofana - Tchouaméni - Griezmann
O. Dembélé - Giroud - Mbappé
What do you think?
Ronaldo and Messi are still the record-breaking duo...
Ronaldo has only got a single goal at this tournament, but with that strike against Ghana he became the first male player to score in five different World Cups.
Lionel Messi, on the other hand, sits at the top of the goalscoring charts in Qatar with 5, sandwiched between two players who will most likely feature tonight. But who are they?
Messi, just so you know, also equalled Lothar Matthaus' World Cup appearancerecord last night, with 25 games.
Remember Cristiano Ronaldo? You know, the Portuguese guy... played for Manchester United... no?
Well, he's training at Valdebebas, Real Madrid's training ground.
The Paris-born mastermind behindMorocco's amazing run to the World Cup semi-final has had a very interesting career both as a player and a manager, but perhaps even he couldn't have imagined that his success would stretch this far.
Here's a great summary of his journey through football, both on and off the pitch. And a photo of him playing against Real Madrid.
France vs Morocco: head to head record
The two sides have faced each other on 11 separate occasions, with the majority of those matches being in small tournaments.
France have the upper hand in terms of the record, winning seven, drawing three, and losing only once to the African side.
With a win tonight, Morocco would not make a dent in those statistics, but they would have the biggest victory of them all, becoming the first African and Arab side to reach the final of the World Cup and knocking out France, who will try to be the first team since Brazil in 1962 to retain the trophy.
Maybe the Morocco mums will be dancing before the World Cup final if the team manage to do the unthinkable and keep their giant-killing streak going - but what happens to the team that loses?
Well, the losing side tonight will play Croatia on 17 December to find out who comes 3rd and 4th in the final World Cup rankings. But it turns out there's more to it that than. Have a look why.
Will there be more dancing tonight?
The Morocco mums celebrating after each game have made this journey for the African side such a special and personal story. Here is a lovely video of winger Boufal with his mother after the victory over Portugal.
Hakimi: “I’m going to smash [Mbappé].”
Mbappé replied: “It will break my heart a little bit but, you know, that’s football. It is what it is. I have to kill him.”
Ouch. Friendships are being put aside for this one. Check out what makes Mbappé and Hakimi's friendship so special and how they are going to have to forget niceties as they go up against each other in the World Cup semi-final.
We saw Walid Cheddira get two yellow cards in the last round against Portugal, and as a result he's suspended, but what happens if a player gets booked or sent off during this game? Does it affect the final?
Players to watch, part 2: France
The player to watch is obviously Kylian Mbappé, which is why I’ve gone for Antoine Griezmann. The Atlético Madrid midfielder made headlines before the World Cup began thanks to his confusing contract situation between the Madrid side and Barcelona, meaning he was not able to play full games until just before the tournament started.
Many laughed at the situation but it seems to have served as the perfect preparation for him, as he has excelled in his new role in the middle of midfield.
Griezmann has been able to dictate the play from deeper instead of being the team’s reference on the edge of box but he has also excelled defensively, breaking up the play and acting as an extra defender in the midfield when needed.
Players to watch, part 1: Morocco
The easy decision is Soyfan Amrabat, arguably the standout player of the entire World Cup, so let’s go with him. The Fiorentina midfielder, while he has not yet scored a goal akin to that of James Rodríguez in 2014, that is all that is left for him to do to cement his matches in the top bracket of World Cup performances in recent times.
He has been a defensive midfielder doing defensive midfielder-y things, which is quite strange given how the game has seen a shift in the role regarding players in his position, as they have become more fundamental in the way teams play out from the back.
But Amrabat has been the window wiper in front of the defensive line of Morocco that has slowly disintegrated over the tournament, and he has done excellently well, stopping Belgium. Croatia, Spain and Portugal from scoring against Bono in goal.
Can he go one more step and stop France from scoring? it is definitely the hardest challenge so far.
Any other business?
If you need anything else, just check out these two excellent explainers on all the information you could possibly ever need to watch today's semi-final.
Speaking of Argentina, here's the match coverage from yesterday, including my attempt at putting into words what exactly Messi did against little Josko Gvardiol. Poor kid.
Argentina 3-0 Croatia
But who's going to win and join Argentina in the final?
Honestly, it's as though you've seen my prep sheet before you've asked the questions.
Here is Fidel with all the bookmakers' odds for the game, including a cheeky prediction from AS. Check it out and tell us how wrong we are.
So, given the amount of 'potentially playing' and 'maybes' we've got written all over our World Cup notebooks (just me?) then here's a nice look at how the two sides could start the game today.
You always know how to ask the right questions. Today it’s César Ramos, a Mexican referee who made his name in Liga MX.
This will be his fourth game of the tournament and his second in the knockout round, after he officiated Portugal 6-1 Switzerland, back when we all thought Portugal were good.
Here’s Andy to tell you all about him.
How we got here: Morocco
Now France face Morocco, without a doubt as surprising as a bag of mad otters, nobody would have thought that Walid Regragui’s side would be able to get this far, but here they are! They opened their World Cup 2022 account with a 0-0 against yesterday’s losing side, Croatia (who knew that result would be so interesting now) before beating Belgium and Canada to finish top of Group F.
Everybody thought that is where the dream would end, as Spain came next. Ah, Spain, the team of 1,000 knife handles with no blades, tried furiously to pull the neck muscles of the Moroccans as they looked left and right and left again as they followed the passes, the Africans simply had to wait politely until penalties before sending them home.
Then it was Portugal’s turn to finally show everyone that they had arrived, albeit slightly Cristiano-less. But don’t worry, Gonçalo Ramos was practically the new Ronaldo, just without the goals, and surely he would - nope.
Morocco stood firm again and attacked in their brilliant coordination, striking Portugal where they knew they could and taking advantage of a slight error at the back for En Nesyri to make it 1-0. Then they held on well, again, and now look - they’re in the semi-final!
How we got here: France
France finished the group level on 6 points with Australia. The European side beat the Socceroos 4-1 in their opening game of the tournament and then defeated Denmark 2-1 a few days later. In the final game of the group stages, manager Didier Deschamps made a million changes to his squad - including playing Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga as a left-back - and his side lost to Tunisia 1-0.
That didn’t stop Les Blues from finishing top of the pile and the second placed team in Argentina’s group would play against them in the second round.
It was Lewandowski’s Poland that faced France in the Round of 16. The current World Champions could not have been given an easier task than to swipe away the lacklustre Polish side: two great goals from Mbappé sentenced them and France marched on to the quarter final, against a resolute England (no flag).
Harry Kane will be remembered for missing a crucial penalty but Olivier Giroud’s header from Griezmann’s cross (potentially assist of the tournament, sorry Messi and Molina) was a sublime way for the French to put England out and end the dream of ‘football coming home’.
Morocco team news:
Basically ¾ of the back four are out, with Achraf Hakimi the only guaranteed starter. Mazraoui has a hip injury and Saiss wasn’t able to train fully in the week. Aguerd missed the last match and is still a doubt, although manager Walid Regragui says he will wait “until the last minute” to decide on the fitness of the players.
Striker Walid Cheddira received two yellow cards in the win over Portugal and will be unavailable for the game.
France team news:
Well, it’s not looking pretty if you’re a fan of Rabiot and Upamecano, as the two players are both doubts for today’s game. Upamecano has a *checks notes* sorethroat while Rabiot has a cold. What’s French for ‘do you have any Strepsils?’
Fofana and Konaté are poised to take the place of the two ill players, so let’s see if they make it or not.
In terms of suspensions, Les Bleus are all good.
Hello, hello, hello!
A toasty welcome to everyone here for the AS USA live coverage of the tasty World Cup semi-final.
Oh, my, it’s France vs Morocco!
(11am PT / 2pm ET / 8pm CEST)
We saw Argentina beat Croatia 3-0 last night thanks to Messi and his alien feet (sorry Julián Álvarez, you were also good), who made defender of the tournament Josko Gvardoil’s ribcage spin around 360 degrees inside his chest as he tried to keep up with the Argentinian’s twirling.
Who will make it through today to face Argentina for the ultimate prize in football?