Everyone expected to see France in the semifinals, but no one expected to see Morocco. But when there are only four contenders for the title, all status as favorites and outsiders evaporates. The surprise team may end up in the 1/8 finals, with total luck in the top eight, but never in the semifinals.
Of course, the Moroccan team has already immortalized itself. These players are the first Africans to make it to the top 4 of the World Cup, and at the same time they have inflated their transfer prices. In the near future they are assured plump contracts, in the distant future – respect and honor. How to motivate yourself in such a situation?
Very simple: it is foolish to think about the future on the step of the greatest possible achievement in soccer. But the Moroccans have serious problems in the present: due to various injuries, the participation of five players in the core – Mazraoui, Saiss, Agherd, Amrabat and Ziyech – was in question. The departure of any of them would have been a disaster, because the Moroccan national team is strong with its integrity and coherent team play, not individually.
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New African tactics.
On jabs, but all the players in doubt were announced in the starting lineup. The Arab team seemed to have healed everyone, but not all the way. Already after the pre-match warm-up, Agerd was missing from the basics, and in the middle of the first half Saiss was replaced. Both central defenders, on whom the entire tournament was based the phenomenal defensive game of the Moroccans, could not help the team in the battle with the reigning world champions.
For Didier Deschamps, everything was perfect. The French were also missing a couple of players from the starting line-up: Upamekano and Rabiot were left out due to health problems. But the Europeans’ bench looks much more solid than that of Morocco, even taking into account the monstrous staffing problems.
Valid Regraghi, the head coach of the Africans, was well aware of it, so he decided to choose a special tactic for the Tri-Color players: Morocco has abandoned the usual 4-1-4-1 formation and switched to a central three defenders for the first time in this championship. Agerd’s injury in the warm-up did not affect the starting plan, but further events turned everything upside down.
Even at the added time, the Moroccans kept pushing forward, hoping to get at least one goal back. They deserved nothing but applause for their drive and character. But Morocco goes to fight for third place, while France will face Argentina in the super final.