World Cup

France know Morocco not just an expert defence mechanism

As they get ready for their unexpected World Cup semifinal matchup on Wednesday, France is fully aware that Morocco is much more than just a defensive team.

Morocco has only let up one goal all tournament and advanced to the final four by defeating Spain and Portugal in the knockout rounds.

There is no chance the defending champions will take anything for granted at the Al Bayt stadium despite their excellent rapid transitions and ease with the ball in Qatar.

“We have enough experience to avoid falling into this trap (of being over confident). They’ve reached that stage for a reason,” centre back Raphael Varane, France’s vice-captain, told a news conference on Monday.

“They defend very well, it will be extremely difficult. We, the leaders of the team, have to prepare all the players for another battle. It’s a World Cup semifinal, you need to give everything until the end if you want to deserve your place in the final.”

Varane is aware of the confidence that Walid Regragui’s team will exude.

“They’re writing Moroccan football history, they have a collective force with performances that give them a lot of confidence,” he said.

“They’re physically very fit, they’re dangerous on counter attacks and set pieces, too.”

Jules Kounde, the right back who will be responsible for stopping Sofiane Boufal on the flank, doesn’t need to be reminded of Morocco’s strengths.

“I’m not worried but we know they beat big teams to get there and we’re going to take it seriously. It’s not a surprise to see them here anymore. They deserve to be here,” he said.

“They’re very compact. They give very little time to the player who has the ball to get organised. You have to play fast and try to break their balance,” said Kounde.

“We’re well aware of their qualities. They’re very efficient with the ball, they combine very quickly to find their two wingers.

“What they have done is remarkable, only conceding an own goal, especially when you see the tams they played. We’re going to have to be very precise to score.”

In the Sunday final at the Lusail stadium, the winners will take on either Argentina or Croatia, who will be playing each other on Tuesday.


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