France booked a spot in the 2022 World Cup Final after defeating Morocco, 2-0. The victory provides France a chance to be the first repeat World Cup champions since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.
As a result Morocco, goes down to the third-place game. Still, this is the best finish for an African side at the World Cup.
Throughout the tournament, Morocco relied on strong defensive play. It would steal a goal off a set piece or hold out for penalties, as it did against Spain. For reference, no team scored on Morocco during its five games at the World Cup in 2022. The only concession was an own goal against Canada. Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, or Bono, has a legitimate chance to win the award for best goalkeeper.
The issue was the other team’s offense. France has an embarrassment of riches across the pitch. Therefore, it is fitting that two players not meant to start, or even appear, in the tournament grabbed both the goals.
Unlikely French goalscorers
All the chatter of this World Cup in the French camp was the play of Kylian Mbappé with five goals. Or, it centered around Olivier Giroud setting the French goalscoring record with four goals.
It did not, however, focus on Theo Hernandez. The left back was a reserve to his brother, Lucas Hernandez. However, when Lucas picked up a serious injury against Australia in the first group stage game, Theo fit in naturally.
He attempted a wild high kick after a deflected shot that beat Bono. It was just his second goal with the national team. The other actually sent France to the UEFA Nations League Finals in 2021. It was 1-0 to France inside the first five minutes.
Then, Randall Kolo Muani scored the insurance goal in the 79th minute. The interesting fact about Kolo Muani is that Didier Deschamps did not originally select the player for the World Cup. Instead, he only joined the squad as a replacement for Christopher Nkunku. Remarkably, that was Kolo Muani’s first goal in the French kit. Not a bad time to get it.
France reaches another World Cup Final
Morocco had more of the ball. The Atlas Lions had 62% possession to France’s 38%. However, Hugo Lloris and the French defense always had an answer. The one time it did not, the post denied a goal. Jawad El Yamiq attempted an overhead kick that forced Lloris into a desperate dive. Then, the clank of the post denied an equalizer.
France was the better team on the day, even if Morocco looked perhaps the more creative. An early injury exit to Romain Saiss, one of the defenders of the tournament, did no favors to protecting Moroccan security at the back. That being said, Morocco did temper the attempts of Kylian Mbappé.
Now, France has a date with Argentina in the World Cup Final. In many ways, it is a battle of eras. Kylian Mbappé, at just 23 years old, can have two World Cups to his name before he truly hits the prime of his career. Or, Lionel Messi can close out his international career with the one trophy he is missing. Sunday’s World Cup Final, fittingly, meets all the criteria for a fantastic intercontinental showdown.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Ulmer/Teamfoto
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