Morocco plays France in Wednesday’s semi-final at the Al Bayt Stadium. They want to be the first African country to make it to the FIFA World Cup final.
Didier Deschamps’ team won the World Cup in Russia four years ago. They are still trying to win it again and join Brazil and Italy as the only other countries to do so.
Harry Kane, a striker for Tottenham Hotspur, missed a rare penalty, which helped France get past a late scare and beat England by a score of 2-1 in their quarterfinal match last Saturday.
After Kane’s penalty in the 54th minute, Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud scored goals that put Les Bleus on their way to the quarterfinals. England’s hopes of bringing the World Cup home were dashed when Kane hit his second penalty into row Z with six minutes left in the game.
Before that, France beat Poland 3–1 in the round of 16 on December 4 after finishing first in Group D with six points from their three group games. Poland was led by Robert Lewandowski.
Also, Morocco continues to break records at the World Cup. After beating Portugal 1-0 last Saturday, they became the first African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
After Youssef En-Nesyri scored the first goal by heading it in with the highest jump in the 43rd minute, the Atlas Lions’ famously tough defense won against another European powerhouse. They kept the Selecao from scoring as wave after wave of attackers came at them, putting them in the semi-finals.
Before that, Morocco went through the group stages of the World Cup without losing a single game. They were the first African team to finish first in their group at the World Cup.
Walid Regragui’s team was put in Group F with Canada, Belgium, and last year’s runner-up Croatia. They got seven out of a possible nine points to move on to the round of 16, where they beat Spain on penalties.
The 2010 world champions couldn’t get past Morocco’s solid defense, and they lost on penalties when Sevilla goalkeeper Bono made two saves to help the North Africans win 3-0.
Morocco is now 180 minutes away from glory and a win from making its first-ever World Cup final. All that stands in their way is a France team that hasn’t lost in any of its last seven games.
Both teams played each other for the first time at the Mediterranean Games in September 1975. After a 1-1 draw in regular time at the Stade du 5 Juillet, Les Bleus won 3-1 on penalties to take the game.
Since then, the two-time world champions have beaten the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations winners four more times. This includes wins at the King Hassan II Cup in 1998 and 2000.
On Wednesday, France and Morocco will play each other for the first time at a major international tournament. However, they have met twice in friendly matches.
Their first friendly match was at the Orange Velodrome in January 1999. Youri Djorkaeff scored in the 47th minute to give Deschamps’ team a 1-0 win.
The second and most recent time France and Morocco played was in November 2007. At the Stade de France, the game ended in a thrilling 2-2 tie.
FRANCE VS. MOROCCO HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
France wins: 5
Morocco wins: 2
France goals: 13
Morocco goals: 7
September 4, 1975: France 1-1 Morocco (Mediterranean Games)
September 17, 1987: France 0-0 Morocco (Mediterranean Games)
February 5, 1988: France 2-1 Morocco (Four Nations Tournament)
May 29, 1998: France 2-2 Morocco (King Hassan II Cup)
January 20, 1999: France 1-0 Morocco (International Friendly)
June 6, 2000: France 5-1 Morocco (King Hassan II Cup)
November 16, 2007: France 2-2 Morocco (International Friendly)