France vs Morocco: Three key players to watch out for | FIFA World Cup 2022

The Hard Tackle looks at three key players to watch out for in the FIFA World Cup 2022 semi-final between France and Morocco.

We are in the endgame of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Just three more games remain before the 22nd winner of the gala tournament bursts into the spotlight. Argentina and Croatia battled hard in the first semi-final, with the latter bowing out of the tournament. Now is the turn for France or Morocco to reach the grand finale on Sunday.

The two teams headed into the World Cup with contrasting expectations around them. While France had invariably been one of the favourites, few expected Morocco to embark on a run into the final week. And their performances have also been polar opposite thus far.

Didier Deschamps has forged France into one of the eye-catching teams in the world, with Kylian Mbappe leading the charge. But their defence has blown hot and cold thus far. On the other hand, Walid Regragui has displayed a defensive masterclass one after the other with Morocco. And the Atlas Lions are yet to concede a goal to an opposition player in Qatar.

Despite the contrasting playing styles, France and Morocco are on a collision course and will meet at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday. And ahead of the mouthwatering clash in Al Khor, The Hard Tackle lists three key players for the game.

Kylian Mbappe

Will Mbappe wreak havoc again? (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Who else but the domineering and fearsome attacker to kick off our list in this feature? After all, Kylian Mbappe has been on a tear and is arguably the most consistent performer thus far at the FIFA World Cup 2022. And to think the 23-year-old is not even at his theoretical peak is nothing short of astounding.

The youngster’s situation at the club level might be engulfed in uncertainty, but he has put all that on the back burner in Qatar. And Mbappe has channelled his frustration and anger to bring the best out of himself in national colours. So it is hardly surprising that he is atop the top scorers’ list at the World Cup.

With five goals thus far, Mbappe is level with the ageless wonder who is Lionel Messi. But with a game in hand over his PSG teammate, the 2018 World Cup winner will be eager to lead France to a win over Morocco by finding the back of the net at least once.

Mbappe will also go head-to-head with Messi for the Golden Ball. And another game-changing performance in the semi-final will bolster his case considerably. Finally, Mbappe is one player with the tools to get past a resolute defensive unit like Morocco’s. So Deschamps will look to the 23-year-old to end the Moroccan juggernaut on Wednesday.

Sofyan Amrabat

While Mbappe will arguably be the most eye-catching performer in the second semi-final, this player will be instrumental in keeping Morocco in business against France. He has indubitably been the best midfielder at the FIFA World Cup 2022. We are talking about the in-demand Sofyan Amrabat.

The 26-year-old has been an unheralded player for much of his professional career. And apart from fleeting links with a few top clubs, the Fiorentina midfielder has never been in the spotlight. But Amrabat will have become a household name long after the World Cup is done and dusted.

It is hardly surprising that European bigwigs have started noticing his talent. And the player is a target for clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United, and Barcelona. It is not hard to see why Amrabat has captured the attention of high-profile clubs, with his temperament and work rate being two traits that such teams admire.

So the 26-year-old will undoubtedly be the most vital cog in Walid Regragui’s efficient machinery. He will be critical in keeping the ball as far away from Yassine Bounou as possible, which has been the objective for the Atlas Lions at the World Cup. And if Amrabat is on song, Mbappe might not be as big a factor for France against Morocco as Didier Deschamps wants.

Adrien Rabiot

On top of his game. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Olivier Giroud has not let Didier Deschamps feel the absence of Karim Benzema. So it is hard to leave someone like him out of this list. In addition, players like Azzedine Ounahi, Romain Saiss, and Achraf Hakimi have been pivotal figures for Morocco and will be crucial against France. But Adrien Rabiot takes the cake here.

Reports leading up to the game have suggested that Rabiot is doubtful to feature on Wednesday. But he should be fit enough to make it to the starting lineup. And the 27-year-old will be the other side of the coin in the midfield battle that will determine the game’s outcome.

The Juventus midfielder has come a long way from the uncertainties of the summer transfer window. He had nearly joined Manchester United before a move failed to materialise. And what looked like a long season for Rabiot has turned into a memorable few months, as he has been a solid player for the Bianconeri before performing consistently for France.

The former PSG ace has been the disruptor in the middle of the park for Les Bleus. And another top display from Rabiot will help France break the resilient Morocco. That, in turn, will bring Kylian Mbappe into the picture. So Rabiot’s output will be crucial in determining whether the defending champions can break the Moroccan resolve and end the Cinderella Story.

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