In Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal, Morocco have no special strategies to counter the threat provided by Kylian Mbappe because coach Walid Regragui believes holders France pose too many individual threats for Morocco to focus on just one.
Mbappe, who has five goals in the competition, attracted extra attention from England in Saturday’s quarterfinal, where he was virtually made ineffective despite the French winning the match.
Regragui stated at a press conference on Tuesday, prior to the match at the Al Bayt Stadium, that Morocco has no similar preparations.
“I am not going to try and set up any particular tactical plan to counter Kylian,” he said.
“France also has other good players. (Antoine) Griezmann is on top of his game and playing well between the lines and Ousmane Dembele is also a perfect complement to Mbappe on the other wing.
“If we just focus on Mbappe that will be a mistake. They are world champions, with world class players and they will be going for it with all they got. We need to focus on what we can do to cause problems for France.”
Achraf Hakimi, a right back for Morocco and a teammate of Mbappe’s at Paris St. Germain, opposes Mbappe on the left of the attack.
“Achraf knows Mbappe better than me and trains with him on a daily basis, so he’s better placed than I am to know how to deal with Kylian. Hakimi is one of the best players in the world, so it’s going to be a great duel between the two,” Regragui said.
Morocco enters the semifinal hoping to add France to an amazing list of opponents they have defeated during the competition, but they also need to get their players well again after the strain of their five games in Qatar.
The coach admitted that Morocco was still dealing with “a lot of ailments,” but the players were making progress. Particularly the starting center back duo of captain Romain Saiss and Nayef Aguerd raises questions.
Regragui said that they will not alter their tactical strategy in response to criticism of their defensive block and counterattacking strategy. What use is having 70% of the ball if you only have a few shots on goal, he questioned.
“Everybody’s working, everybody is giving their best in every way and we play a collective game every time with a good spirit, which for me is everything in football.
“When you get to the semifinal of the World Cup and you are not hungry, there’s a problem. Not everyone is lucky to play at this stage of the tournament. The best team here, Brazil, has already been knocked out,” Regragui added.
“We are a very ambitious team, we are hungry. But I don’t know if it will be enough… it can be. We are confident and are determined to rewrite the history books.”
The first African and Arab nation to make it to the World Cup semifinals, Morocco is aiming to advance even further.
“I know we are not the favourites, but we are confident. You might say I’m mad but I think a bit of craziness is good,” he said.
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