The second of the 2022 World Cup semi-finals featured reigning champions, France, and significant underdogs, Morocco. Morocco is the first African nation to reach a semi-final at the World Cup, but their journey was cut short by a France team that was too much for them.
World Cup Semi-finals: France on to the final; Morocco to play for 3rd place
France and Morocco both played fantastically at the 2022 World Cup, but when it came to making it to the final, France was better equipped for the moment. Morocco played well and had the ball a good deal, but injury-forced substitutions and fatigue doomed them in the final.
France moves on to play Argentina in the World Cup final; can they repeat as champions or will Messi finally win a World Cup? That match is to be played Sunday at 10 am EST. Morocco will have one more chance to bring glory to their nation, as they play in the third-place match against Croatia. Could we see a first-ever African nation finish in third at a Men’s World Cup?
Let’s take a look back at how France made their second straight final, and how Morocco’s dream of being champions of the World fell just short.
France 2 – 0 Morocco
As this highly anticipated match kicked off, it was clear that France was going to concede possession to Morocco in order to exploit the space the underdogs left open when they attacked. This strategy paid off just five minutes into the game. France had a numbers advantage in Morocco’s box and a deflected shot fell to the far post where an unmarked Theo Hernandez pounced. He still had a lot of work to do as he stretched his leg to make contact and beat an onrushing keeper and a defender on the goal line, but the ball went in and France had an early lead.
Morocco didn’t fold after conceding, however. They pushed the ball up the field and made things a bit uneasy for France. They had a few attempts that put France under a lot of pressure, but as they were a goal down so early in the game, this left far too much space for France to counter. Olivier Giroud hit the post and missed a sitter at the end of the first half; putting one of those two chances in would have sealed the match as Morocco was chasing the game already.
France had a 1-0 lead as the second half kicked off, but Morocco still flew at them with intensity. chances were there for them to find the equalizer all the way up to the 79th minute of the match, that’s when France put things out of reach for the Moroccan cinderella’s. Kylian Mbappe found the ball at his feet running into the Moroccan box. He danced around some players and created enough space to get a shot off. The shot was blocked by a Moroccan defender but fell right to the foot of Frenchman Randal Muani. The keeper had no chance to rush to stop him, and France was up 2-0 with 11 minutes left.
The Moroccans didn’t fold after going 2-0 down, they continued as they did all game and all tournament progressing smartly and looking to find a breakthrough. An overhead kick almost snuck in but hit the post for Morocco just before added time, as all the lucky bounces on the day were French, not Moroccan. France won 2-0 and is on to their second final in as many World Cups; Morocco fell just short of playing for the world championship, but will still be able to be the first African third-place finisher if they can win one more match.
The Final is set: Argentina vs France!
A final with two powerhouses is what we’ll see at this 2022 World Cup. Argentina and France were both predicted to do very well in this tournament, and they’ve showcased their talents in different ways. Argentina had a major slip-up early in the tournament but has rallied to get to the final. France has been dominant in this entire World Cup in their quest to become back-to-back champions of the world.
Will we see one of the greatest players of all time, Messi, lead Argentina to glory for the first time since 1986? Can France be the first nation to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil did it way back in 1958 and 1962? This 2022 final is going to be one for the ages!
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Mandatory Credit: Florencia Tan Jun/Pximages