Morocco’s historic World Cup run came to an end on Wednesday as they fell 2-0 to defending champions France.
Despite missing key players Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano due to illness, Les Bleus relied on their squad depth to overpower an unrelenting Moroccan team.
Morocco, the first-ever African side to play in a World Cup semifinal, first conceded in the fifth minute when Kylian Mbappé’s deflected shot fell to defender Theo Hernandez, who found the net with an acrobatic effort. Ten minutes later, AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud looked to extend France’s lead, only to find his shot hit the woodwork.
With their fans roaring them on with chants heard across the stadium, Morocco stepped up their attacking threat with multiple shots on target, including a breathtaking bicycle kick by Jawad El Yamiq in the 44th minute, but none of them were able to beat Hugo Lloris in the French goal.
Randal Kolo Muani sealed France’s win in the 79th minute, scoring the second goal with his first touch of the game — off another deflected Mbappé shot.
Les Bleus have now made the World Cup final for the second time in a row and will face a challenging opponent in Lionel Messi's Argentina on Sunday at Lusail Stadium.
Morocco will cap off their Cinderella story with a historic third-place finish if they can defeat Croatia on Saturday.
Expected goals (xG): France 2.03, Morocco 1.16
Man of the Match: Kylian Mbappé, France
All eyes were on the PSG winger in this semifinal, and he did not fail to impress. Although he didn’t record any goals or assists, he was still involved with both goals, as his two deflected shots luckily found the feet of the French goalscorers.
Mbappé also recorded three key passes and completed six of his 10 dribbles, weaving in and out of the Moroccan defense. As always, he was a constant threat to the opposition’s defensive line, receiving a game-high four defensive-line-breaking passes and holding a game-high eight possessions in Morocco’s penalty box.
Best Passer: Aurélian Tchouaméni, France
The Real Madrid midfielder proved to be the best passer of the match, narrowly topping Antoine Griezmann and Azzedine Ounahi. He recorded two key passes for the French side and completed an important defensive-line-breaking through-ball in the 35th minute that created a half-chance for Kylian Mbappé. The passing maestro also contributed to France’s attack, completing seven of his eight line-breaking pass attempts and 89% of his passes in total.
Best Challenger: Antoine Griezmann, France
Griezmann has had a spectacular World Cup so far, and he continued to show his class in this match. The Atletico Madrid winger contributed to France’s semifinal win with his impressive passing and crossing performance, but his challenge metrics stood out among the rest, mainly his 60% challenge win rate.
Griezmann showed his versatility, winning two of his three aerial duels, both 50/50 duels and two of the five tackles he attempted.
Bono was arguably unlucky, as both France's goals resulted from deflected shots falling to the far side of his goal. But as a keeper with the second-best shot-stopping grade (89.8) of the tournament, he won’t be happy with conceding the only two shots he faced in the match.
Hugo Lloris was a massive reason why France was able to achieve the first clean sheet of their World Cup. The Tottenham keeper made two spectacular saves to deny the Moroccans from getting on the scoresheet, and he also won both aerial duels he was a part of.