World Cup quarterfinals: Morocco on the verge of history against Portugal as Kylian Mbappé’s France face England


Morocco have already caused an upset in the round of 16 when they beat Spain on penalties for the first time in their history, but the North Africans will have to restore their courage if they are to get past a resurgent Portugal.

This afternoon, the last match of the round of 8 will be against old enemies England and France.

“Before it wasn’t just Moroccans who supported us, now it’s Africans and Arabs,” Moroccan manager Walid Regragui said of his team’s trip.

Morocco became the darling of the World Cup. In the first “Arab” World Cup, they became the first Arab country to qualify for the 8th round of the World Cup, being the first African team to qualify for the quarter-finals in the last ten years. they represent so much more than just their country. Nation.

Achraf Hakimi, who was born in Madrid, scored the goal that eliminated Spain from the World Cup.

But this was not the heroic performance of riding his luck.

Morocco have the worst defense in the tournament, conceding just one own goal so far. Despite having the toughest run to the last eight in each of the quarter-finals – playing World Cup quarter-finalists Croatia, Belgium and 2010 World Cup finalist Spain – only Argentina have conceded fewer kicks than Atlas. Lions.

When the teams shoot, they have to compete with Yassine “Bono” Bounou. The Sevilla goalkeeper has not conceded a goal against an opposition player in more than 300 minutes of football, including two penalty saves.

After three or four important players were injured in the previous game against Spain and the list of rough that included the matches against the second, seventh and 12th ranked countries in the world, Morocco was reduced to its bones. But that will not dampen the spirit and ambition of the team.

When asked about going deep into the tournament, manager Regragui said, “At some point in Africa, we have to be ambitious, why not win the World Cup?”

Looking at Morocco with more history is a Portuguese team that seemed, for the first time under Fernando Santos, not to be completely locked up and play to their attacking potential when they thrashed Switzerland 6-1.

But in order to confirm the strength of the team, Santos took the most difficult decision of his career, removing the nation’s best player of all time Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite his illustrious career and being the top scorer of all time (118 goals in 194 appearances), there are signs that age is finally catching up with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. d’Or.

Ronaldo is yet to score in an away game at the World Cup.

In contrast to the position of the 37-year-old who is one of the most popular players, his replacement Gonçalo Ramos started his first ever game for the national team and he took advantage of his opportunity.

The 21-year-old striker from Benfica scored three goals to help Portugal dominate Switzerland. The last player to score a hat-trick in his first World Cup was Miroslav Klose, who is currently the tournament’s top scorer.

But Ramos is not the only player who has been released in Ronaldo’s absence. Former Manchester United team-mate Bruno Fernandes was at his creative best, and Atlético Madrid star João Félix looked like the player who had long been tipped as the man to take the torch from Ronaldo.

The last meeting between the two teams was in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, an exciting match in which Ronaldo scored the only goal of the tournament.

No team has scored more goals than Portugal in the last 12 of the World Cup, but will the unstoppable Portugal be able to beat unmoved Morocco?

The biggest game of the round is down to the last as world champions France, who are looking to become the first country to win the World Cup in 60 years, face an England side set to reach their third semi-final.

Despite both sides fielding some of the best stars in the world, all eyes are suddenly on Kylian Mbappé. The PSG striker has not been impressive in this tournament. He has scored five goals in three starts so far, already surpassing his 2018 total.

Mbappé has already surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup goalscoring record and is level with Lionel Messi with 9 goals.

The big question ahead of the game is whether England can lock down the striker.

“England will prepare for Kylian, but he is in a position to make the difference,” said France coach Didier Deschamps. “We have other players, but Kylian is Kylian and he can make the difference.”

Kyle Walker, who will likely be the defender tasked with stopping Mbappé, was confident when asked.

“I understand what I need to do, which is to stop him,” he said. “It’s probably easier said than done, but I don’t underestimate myself.”

But Mbappé is not the only threat to France going forward. The opposite defender is Ousmane Dembélé who is not a complete product like Mbappé but no less dangerous with his speed and flow. Among the sprinters is Olivier Giroud, who became France’s all-time leading goalscorer earlier in the tournament as he works his way into the big men.

Behind the front three strikers is Atlético’s Antoine Griezmann, who after a few difficult seasons, looks back as the player who took the storms at Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018.

Although Harry Maguire and John Stones have performed well at the heart of England’s defence, they have not been tested anywhere near this attack in a major tournament.

Harry Kane is England's all-time leading scorer in major competitions with 11 goals.

However, unlike previous tournaments, England have plenty of tools of their own to damage France’s vulnerable defence.

Portugal along with the Three Lions are the top scorers in Qatar. They won the first two games 3-0, and for the first time in this century, they came into this game with a deeper team than their opponents and they suffered a lot.

Like Giroud, Harry Kane is on the brink of becoming England’s all-time top goalscorer. He is now just one goal behind Wayne Rooney’s record of 53.

Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford both scored three goals each despite neither being guaranteed to start, and Jordan Henderson made a surprise return to the line-up with good results. The Liverpool captain scored the opening goal against Senegal and added much needed balance to the team.

With two excellent attacks – and two unconvincing defenses – this game has the potential to be the best of the entire tournament.

Morocco vs Portugal: Saturday, December 10, 10 a.m. ET at Al Thumama Stadium

England vs France: Saturday, December 10, 2 pm ET at Al Bayt Stadium

US: Fox Sports


Australia: SBS

Brazil: Sports TV

Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom

Canada: Bell Media


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