France vs Morocco Prediction
14th December 2022
22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT
Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
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World Cup Head-to-Head Record
France vs Morocco Prediction Match Overview
Our France vs Morocco prediction analyses the respective chances of both sides – we have now reached the business end of the tournament, with a place in the World Cup final at stake. For the French, a second successive World Cup final beckons, and along with it the chance to cement their legacy as one of the game’s great sides. For the Moroccans, this is wholly uncharted territory. Against the odds, Morocco now holds the distinction of being the first African nation to reach the semi-final stage of the World Cup.
France’s path to the semi-finals saw them open the tournament in style, eventually defeating Australia 4-1 after they fell behind to a shock opening goal. France laboured at points against Denmark but were the superior side, though they were made to wait until the 86th minute before Kylian Mbappe settled proceedings for a 2-1 victory. The French rang the changes against Tunisia and duly succumbed to a 1-0 defeat but were perhaps a little unfortunate not to level at the death through Antoine Griezmann.
France’s round of 16 match against Poland demonstrated why the French are one of the tournament’s most feared nations, as Mbappe and Giroud combined to devastating effect. England had the potential to be an altogether different proposition in their high-profile quarter-final clash, but the French took the lead early in the first half through Aurelien Tchouameni to have the English chase the game. While England succeeded in levelling proceedings through a Harry Kane penalty, France did what they needed to do via a moment of inspiration from Antoine Griezmann which saw a teasing cross converted via a combination of Olivier Giroud’s head and Harry Maguire’s arm. Kane missed a second penalty to ensure that the match didn’t reach extra time.
Morocco have a hard-earned reputation for defensive solidity off the back of clean sheets against sides who were considered to be stronger by the vast majority of analysts coming into the tournament. A 0-0 draw in their group opener against Croatia was followed by a comfortable 2-0 victory over group favourites Belgium. The only goal they’ve conceded so far was an own goal in a 2-1 win over Canada in their final group match. In the round of 16, Spain were unable to make any headway either despite monopolising possession, and Morocco were excellent value for their 0-0 draw as they restricted the Spanish to a handful of chances and one shot on target. They held their nerve in the resultant penalty shoot-out to earn the right to face Portugal. Despite Portugal representing a different challenge with their more direct attacking approach, Morocco survived a few scares, particularly a Joao Felix header from a Bruno Fernandes free-kick in the 4th minute to impose themselves on the game and punish Portugal in transitions, and consequently they were good value for their 1-0 victory.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play: Aguerd, Mazraoui, Ziyech (Morocco)
Will not play:
France vs Morocco Prediction Analysis
Breaking Down the Moroccan Defence – Chapter Six
A Nayef Aguerd own-goal aside in their final group match against Canada, no side has been able to breach the Moroccan defence and this is the principal reason why they now find themselves in a position to, incredibly, reach the World Cup final. What makes this feat so impressive is that, besides a few scares here and there, the opposition has, thus far, not been able to cite bad luck or variance as the main contributor to Morocco’s unprecedented progress. Morocco have had great success in defending as a team, with every man performing their defensive duties diligently and proficiently.
This has perhaps surprised some observers, with the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal showing a side to their game that has perhaps been missing in their club careers. When out of possession, Morocco will close ranks and defend deep and with numbers, which makes playing between the lines a difficult and unattractive proposition. This means that the opposition must rely on their ability to pull players out of position with intricate interplay, overloads and otherwise more sophisticated attacking patterns that their opponents have been able to piece together so far. In a sense, Morocco are playing a brand of football completely suited to an international football tournament for their stature.
France have shown throughout the tournament, and particularly against the English in their quarter-final clash that their forwards can conjure moments of improvisation and inspiration, and it’s this wellspring of creativity that the French will need to draw upon to succeed here. Spain’s well-structured approach to attacking made little headway in their second-round match, with the Moroccan defence giving up very little in terms of clear attacking opportunities. Portugal fared better but a combination of superb goalkeeping and defensive resilience was enough once again, so France need to generate opportunities without resorting to generic patterns of play. It’s perhaps instructive that Canada’s free-wheeling approach to attack yielded a goal.
Each member of France’s front four, particularly Mbappe, Griezmann and Giroud, has a talent for improvisation which saw them create more from open play against England despite seeing less of the ball and creating fewer chances overall. The chances they did create yielded clearer opportunities, and they’ll need to be at their creative best here to gain the upper hand early in the tie.
Stopping Morocco in Transition
Morocco have shown that they are a consistently potent force in transition. Rather than defending for their lives and waiting for an opportunity to hit the ball long into space, the Moroccans are capable of putting together sweeping counter-attacking moves that are something of a throwback to an earlier footballing age, reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and Jose Mourinho’s Internazionale sides. They counter with precision and intricacy and frankly could’ve buried Portugal if they were able to seize more of their clear opportunities. This makes them an entirely different proposition from other defensively-minded teams, as their opponents can’t risk opening up too much for fear of being carved open themselves. In this sense, their defensive approach and their attacking ambitions are in perfect harmony.
France must improve their concentration levels at the back. In every single match this tournament, their defence has been breached, although it’s perhaps important to point out that Robert Lewandowski’s penalty never had the potential to be anything other than a consolation goal. Nevertheless, Morocco will doubtlessly be aware that the French defence hasn’t proven to be particularly solid in recent years. The onus will be on the likes of Tchouameni and Rabiot to be defensively responsible because Morocco will look to break with numbers and with considerable speed. This is vitally important in this match, particularly in terms of covering Theo Hernandez’s frequent forays forward. Hernandez is an excellent attacking wingback but perhaps not the best defensively at this level.
Taking an Early Opportunity
It’s vitally important that the French take one of their early opportunities to make their task no more difficult than it needs to be. Getting ahead early in the first half would place the Moroccans in a situation they’ve managed to avoid thus far, and could force them to abandon some of their famed defensive solidity. The longer that Morocco can stay level or ahead in the match, the more settled they are likely to become and they will prove to be incredibly difficult to break down. France need to catch their opponents cold, and off-guard, and they will be looking for a moment of brilliance and improvisation to achieve just that. In our opinion, the most formidable tournament teams at both club and international levels often can create something from nothing to throw tactical plans out of the window, and if there’s one thing the French excel at it’s creating ‘moments’ as opposed to the more rigid expressions of attack employed by the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp at club level.
Conversely, if the Moroccans can catch the French cold early on, most likely as the result of a rapid counter-attack, the dynamic changes considerably. As France would inevitably be pressing for an equalising goal, this will open up further counter-attacking opportunities. Therefore, we can expect Morocco to counter-attack aggressively from the first whistle. While they will be operating a low block, they certainly will not play a game entirely predicated on containment and they will show attacking ambition because playing a completely passive game in the face of French attacking invention will not work here.
France Key Players
At times during this match, the pitch will be incredibly congested and attacking opportunities will be hard-earned. Who better to select than a striker with a talent for improvisation and taking half-chances? The Moroccans were relatively untroubled by the attacking patterns of Spain and the playmaking efforts of Kevin De Bruyne for Belgium, and Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva for Portugal, but France possess a player capable of the unexpected in front of goal. For those reasons, Giroud would appear to be perfectly suited to this match.
Given Morocco’s tendency to pack their area with bodies and prevent the opposition from playing in between the lines, it, therefore, stands to reason that the available space will be in the channels, and Mbappe prefers to operate coming in from his favourite left-hand side forward role. Though he will surely receive close attention from his PSG teammate Achraf Hakimi, Mbappe is perhaps unique in comparison to what the Moroccans have faced thus far in that he is a striker that requires considerable assistance from other defensive players to attempt to mark him out of the game. This will stretch the Moroccan defensive resources and perhaps open up space for others to operate in. Last time out, it was Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud who were the primary beneficiaries of this approach.
Morocco Key Players
Generally speaking, when a team faces a player of Mbappe’s quality, it goes without saying that the man who will primarily be responsible for keeping him quiet is going to have key player status bestowed upon him. Hakimi has the pace and tenacity to match his PSG teammate physically, and will perhaps be hoping that his considerable experience in facing Mbappe on the training ground will pay off. Hakimi will also be vitally important for Morocco in supplementing their counter-attacking game, forming one-half of their flying full-back partnership with Bayern Munich’s Mazraoui.
A midfield colossus throughout this tournament, Amrabat will once again be called upon to demonstrate his combative qualities in the middle of the park. At times, the Fiorentina man will need to form a central defensive three alongside Aguerd and Saiss, playing the role of the spare man in that unit and firefighting dangerous situations if and when they arise. In possession, Morocco need to get the ball as quickly as they can into dangerous areas without thumping the ball long, which would play into France’s hands as they boast exceptionally quick defenders. Therefore, Amrabat’s ability to play accurate passes in tight spaces will, once again, prove crucial here.
Beat the Bookmaker France vs Morocco Prediction
It goes without saying that Morocco’s primary objective will be to keep this game tight and counter through rapid transition play without risking long balls to hand the ball straight back to the French. France will be aware that they must be inventive when in possession without being wasteful. France have demonstrated that they are prepared to take considerable risks when in possession to break down opposition defences, which does have the downside of rendering them vulnerable to fast, accurate counter-attacks. We, therefore, anticipate a hard-earned French victory, featuring goals from both teams.
With a French win yielding relatively short odds at around 8/15 generally, we feel much better value is to be had on the over 2.5 goals market.
France 2-1 Morocco; Over 2.5 Goals
Beat the Bookmaker France vs Morocco Prediction – Over 2.5 Goals Odds:
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