France 2-0 Morocco: What's your prediction?
After putting Belgium, Portugal and Spain to the sword in Qatar, Morocco are looking to bring another soccer superpower to their knees when they face France in the World Cup semi-finals on Thursday.
On the fitness front, they are likely to again be without key defender Nayef Aguerd (hamstring) and will be sweating on the status of skipper Romain Saiss, the other first-choice centre back.
Morocco's defence is set for its toughest test, up against the tournament's leading scorer Kylian Mbappe (five goals) and Olivier Giroud (four) plus Antoine Griezmann, who was in sublime form in their quarter-final win over England.
An intriguing battle is also looming between Paris St Germain team mates Mbappe and close friend Achraf Hakimi. England kept Mbappe relatively quiet but often had to double-up on him down the left.
Morocco's ability to use their right flank for counter-attacks, through a combination of Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, will be limited if they are kept busy trying to stop Mbappe.
"It always comes down to a few details at this level," said France coach Didier Deschamps. "Quality is not enough, but in this squad there is also mental strength, and a little experience."
As Deschamps recognised, fitness, technique and tactics will, as always, be only part of the story. Morocco will have to go very deep to avoid "settling".
Favourites France, in contrast, will consider it something of a disaster if they fail to deliver the expected victory that will keep them on course to become the first country to successfully defend the World Cup since Brazil 60 years ago.
December 15, Thursday, 01:00 am
Al-Bayt Stadium. Al Khor, Qatar
France: (4-2-3-1) Lloris (GK), Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez, Tchouameni, Rabiot, Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud
Morocco: (4-3-3) Bono (GK), Hakimi, El Yamiq, Aguerd, Mazraoui, Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah, Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal
* Kylian Mbappe has scored five times in five games, surpassing his goal tally from his previous appearance in the tournament in 2018, when France won the World Cup. At 23 years old, Mbappe has scored nine World Cup goals in 12 appearances.
* Morocco are the first Arab and African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals. Coach Walid Regragui became the first Arab manager to lead a team to the knockout rounds.
* France are the first reigning champions to reach the World Cup semi-finals since Brazil in 1998. They will be looking to become the first back-to-back finalists since Brazil in 2002. Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) are the only nations to win two consecutive World Cups.
* Morocco have yet to concede a goal from an opposition player at the tournament. The only goal against them in four games came in their 2-1 win over Canada, when Morocco defender Nayef Aguerd accidentally flicked a cross past his own goalkeeper.
France and Morocco have met five times in official international fixtures. The first took place in 1988, which France won 2-1, but their history goes back further. They played unofficial games in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. France have never lost an official match against Morocco. The most recent clash was a 2-2 draw in Paris in 2007.