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World Cup 2022 Diary: Semi Final, France 2 Morocco 0. France beat Morocco to set up a mouth-watering final with Argentina in Lionel Messi’s last ever World Cup match.

France vs Argentina: A World Cup Final For The Ages

By Dave Bowler

France 4 Argentina 3 was probably the best game of the 2018 World Cup, on the day that Kylian Mbappe became a world star. Four years on, those two nations meet again, this time in the final itself. If we get a game anything like that quality, it’s going to give us one of the great World Cup finals of all time.

France were made to work before they could join Argentina in that final by the Moroccan side who have been the wild card of the competition. When Hernandez gave the French a fifth minute lead, the left-back producing a well thought finish to open the scoring as France opened brightly, it was the first goal an opponent had scored against Morocco, having scored an own goal in the 2-1 win over Canada.

France Exploit Weakened Morocco

Giroud then proceeded to hit the post and fire wide from a central position and it looked as if France were going to batter a Moroccan side wearied by the shootout wins over Spain and Portugal and weakened by defensive injuries.

But needing to show a different side of their talents, from the half hour mark onwards, Morocco began to get to grips with the game and began asking plenty of questions. Lloris made a fine save from El Yamiq as Morocco ended the first half on a real high.

They continued to have good possession in the second period, but France had steadied the ship to some extent, notably with the arrival of Thuram as a sub, rather more willing to track back on the left than Mbappe, who moved into the centre.

There were still a few alarms for the French but Morocco’s excellent approach play was not matched by the quality of the final pass or shot. Without that cutting edge, the concession of that early goal was a heavy blow indeed and while France weren’t entirely secure at the back, the fact that they had that goal in the bag, something the other sides had failed to achieve, meant they were always in control.

Morocco Break Glass Ceiling For African Football

Kolo Muani sealed victory in the 79th minute, within a minute of coming off the bench. Mbappe was the instigator, his mesmerising feet taking him away from three defenders inside half a yard of space, his shot squirting across goal to give Kolo Muani his first international goal with a tap-in from three yards.

The better side won in the end and have set up what could be a brilliant final, but even in defeat the night belonged to Morocco who have crashed through one glass ceiling by going all the way to the semi-finals of the competition, a first for any African nation.

They have given the lie to all the ancient, creaking stereotypes about African football lacking discipline and organisation, they have played with real courage and belief and they should be nothing but proud of their achievements. If only they had a real goalscorer…

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Sir Alf Ramsey: England 1973 focuses on the final full year of Sir Alf’s reign as England boss. The nation that won the World Cup in 1966 failed to even qualify for the 1974 tournament. Ramsey was suddenly a man out of time, both on and off the pitch. The failing fortunes of the England team mirrored those of a post-Empire nation heading for its own a fall.
A must read for all fans. Order your copy in time for the holidays. 

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