Sports, Football

France know Morocco not just an expert defence mechanism

By Reuters
Published : 13 Dec 2022 07:22 PM

France are fully aware that Morocco are much more than a strictly defensive team as they prepare for their unexpected World Cup semi-final clash on Wednesday.

Morocco reached the last four by beating Spain and Portugal in the knockout stages and have conceded only one goal in the tournament.

Their quick transitions and comfort in possession of the ball have been highly impressive in Qatar and there is no chance the defending champions will take anything for granted at the Al Bayt stadium.

"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 semi-final, you need to give everything until the end if you want to deserve your place in the final."

Varane knows that Walid Regragui's team will be full of confidence.

"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."

Right back Jules Kounde, who will be tasked with containing Sofiane Boufal on the flank, does not need to be reminded of Morocco's qualities.

"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."

"We played Simeone-style and won," Sevilla and Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou said after the 3-0 penalty shootout win over Spain in the last 16. "I have to thank all my teammates who have helped me enormously. It was a colossal effort. I applaud them for their work. We have to stay focused and keep in mind what lies ahead."

Moroccan coach Regragui explained after Saturday's 1-0 over Portugal. "Some people say something that it's not good, but he's performed it very well. We are doing really well tactically.  We had a big heart, we didn't leave spaces and we had technical players who make the difference. Our style of play was similar to the one we used against Spain, and it's similar to Cholo Simeone's too,"