Morocco have done well to become the first African side to reach the World Cup semi-finals, but while it would be easy to dismiss their chances of going any further, it would be foolish to discount them completely. The Atlas Lions have already beaten Belgium and Portugal across 90 minutes in Qatar, as well as overcoming Spain on penalties, whilst they also took a point from fellow semi-finalists Croatia in the group stages.
Having produced one successful result after another, Morocco are hardly going to ditch the cautious tactics that’s seen them concede just a single goal at this tournament, in a 2-1 win over Canada. Admittedly, the teams they’ve beaten have struggled for output on occasion, most notably Belgium as they scored just once in three games before an early departure. Spain enjoyed 77% of possession against Morocco, while Portugal had 73%, but it counted for little with Alvaro Morata hardly a clinical marksman and an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo restricted to a substitute role.
France have no such concerns in attack. Kylian Mbappe was largely kept quiet by Kyle Walker in the quarters, but the likes of Aurelien Tchouameni, Antoine Griezmann and Oliver Giroud stepped up as Didier Deschamps’s side aren’t just reliant upon their talisman. Morocco can boast their own fleet-footed full-back and Achraf Hakimi will be more than familiar with his PSG teammate, though his forward raids could be curtailed by the job he’ll need to do on Mbappe.
Elsewhere, Morocco have some key defensive concerns, with Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui missing the win over Portugal, while Romain Saiss had to be stretchered off. Throw in the suspension to striker Walid Cheddira after his pair of late bookings, and the African side aren’t at full strength.
France –3 Corner Handicap
With that in mind and given the possession France are likely to enjoy here, we’d expect the European outfit to come out on top when it comes to corners. Les Bleus have had supremacy in that regard in all but one of their games, with England winning five to their two. They may only have edged Tunisia 8-7 when the reserves took to the field, while Denmark were only beaten 6-4, though they held dominant 7-1 and 8-1 records against Poland and Australia respectively.
Morocco have won just six corners in the entire tournament and have seen their opponents earn at least four more corners in every game so far. Indeed, Portugal (9-3), Spain (4-0), Canada (6-2), Belgium (9-1) and Croatia (5-0) were all comfortable winners in this regard.
Morocco +1 Handicap
France have kept just a single clean sheet in 11 games now, against Austria, and are yet to shut out a team in Qatar. There’s been at least three goals in four of their five games this World Cup, with the exception when a second-string side went down 1-0 to Tunisia. However, with both teams scoring in just three of 10 World Cup semi-finals this century, as eight saw fewer than three goals, they may well earn a rare clean sheet here.
However, in a world cup that has produced plenty of shock results, Morocco provide good value to make the French work for anything they get. Indeed, Morocco have only lost by more than a single goal in one appearance going back to June 2014, which also includes a 1-0 defeat to Portugal and a 2-2 draw with Spain at the last World Cup. France should come through this test, but they can’t expect an easy ride.
MOROCCO +1 HANDICAP
FRANCE –3 CORNER HANDICAP
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