France-Morocco: More Than A Football Match
David vs Goliath match-ups are a hallmark of sport. We’ve seen the underdog beat the giant in individual sports and team sports. When it comes to team sports, David and Goliath match-ups are best personified through the game of soccer.
Because of the game’s global nature, the disparities between different parts of the world become equal when teams take to the pitch. We’ve seen the spirited rivalry of sociopolitical events play out in matches, like Argentina and England’s rivalry throughout the years.
Wednesday’s semi-final between France and Morocco is just that: a tale of history being played out on a sporting pitch. Morocco was a French colony for decades until its protectorate ended in 1956. Their cultural influence is evident in the country. On Wednesday, Moroccans will be able to use the game of football to send their former colonial oppressors a message through the game.
Let’s take a look at the two sides of this upcoming World Cup semi-final.
France: Playing For History
France sits on the precipice of history. The French are on the precipice of challenging a 60-year record at the World Cup. Not since the Brazilian team of 1958-1962 has a team come close to defending their World Cup title. France is two victories away from achieving that.
Top to bottom, the French have one of the most talent-laden rosters in the tournament. They are led by Kylian Mbappe, who is in line for the title of “the best footballer in the world” after Lionel Messi’s retirement. Mbappe has had a spectacular tournament, scoring five goals and assisting on two goals. He has scored 9 goals total through two World Cup appearances. At 23 years old, Mbappe has a good chance to break the World Cup record of 16 goals, set by German striker Miroslav Klose.
France has also made strategic adjustments, like playing Antoine Griezmann in more of a true midfield role. Griezmann’s history as a wide attacker and as a secondary striker has given the French more flexibility in terms of attacking teams and being able to possess the ball more frequently.
Morocco: Playing For a Continent
Morocco has broken multiple records on its way to the semi-final. First, they are the first African team to ever make a semi-final. Previous African teams had never made it past the quarterfinals.
Morocco’s strength so far in the tournament has been defense. Outside of the one goal they gave up to Canada, they have blanked teams like Belgium, Spain, Croatia, and Portugal on the way to the semi-final.
Their strategy against France in the semi-final will be to park the bus and force the more talented French team to beat them offensively. Moroccan right back Achref Hakimi is considered one of the best right backs in the world and will be facing off against his club teammate and friend Kylian Mbappe, as he defends his runs into the Moroccan side.
In the end, I suspect that the French will win this one – the talent they possess is overwhelming. If Morocco’s defense can hold strong, this one could go to penalty kicks – and anything can happen in penalty kicks.
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