France’s injury fears before the World Cup semi-final match with Morocco

Two of France’s key players have “serious doubts” to start the World Cup semi-final against Morocco due to illness, while Atlas Lions coach Walid Regragui rallied his team to fight for the final on behalf of African countries and the United Nations. Arab world.

In a heavy blow to coach Didier Deschamps, there are doubts between France defender Dayo Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot in the World Cup semi-final match on Wednesday after they missed a training session for the team on Tuesday due to illness. ) He said.

The federation said Uppicano, who was reported to be suffering from a sore throat, and Rabiot, who was suffering from an unspecified ailment, were in light training indoors. Upamecano had already missed Monday’s France training session.

In the event that players are left out, coach Deschamps is expected to start with Ibrahima Konate in the central defense position while Youssouf Fofana is expected to be alongside Antoine Griezmann and Aurelien Tchoameni in midfield.

Frenchman Dayot Uppicano, Adrien Rabiot and teammates celebrate after the match as France progressed to the semi-finals after defeating England at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar on December 11, 2022. [Hannah Mckay/Al Jazeera]

Tchouameni, who scored in France’s victory over England on Saturday, also missed training on Monday due to an inconvenience in his left leg but returned to the training ground on Tuesday and should be fit for the Morocco match. The midfielder is the only player to start in every match of France’s World Cup campaign.

We’ll have to stop Kylian, but he’s not the only one.”

Morocco, who also continued pre-match training and preparations on Tuesday, has injury concerns related to captain Romain Saïss and defense defender Nayef Aguird.

Moroccan coach Walid Regragui said that no player was excluded from or outside Wednesday’s match.

“We have good doctors and every day we get good news. No one is excluded and no one is certain,” Rekragui said.

“We will use the best possible team.”

Moroccan defender Romain Ghanem Sayess takes part in a training session at Al-Duhail Stadium
Moroccan defender Romain Ghanem Sayess takes part in a training session at Al-Duhail Stadium in Doha on December 13, 2022, on the eve of the World Cup semi-final match between France and Morocco. [Karim Jaafar/AFP]
Moroccan defender #06 Romain Ghanem Sayess is carried on a stretcher
Moroccan defender Romain Ghanem Sayess is carried away on a stretcher during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final match between Morocco and Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on December 10, 2022. [Manan Vatsyayana/AFP]

Regragui also said that he had no specific plans on how Morocco would deal with the threat of Frenchman Kylian Mbappe. He said that the French team’s attack poses so many individual threats that it is not possible to focus only on one player.

Mbappe is the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, and he plays on the left attack for France. He faces his Paris Saint-Germain teammate and close friend Achraf Hakimi, the highly rated Moroccan right-back.

Regragui said Hakimi was looking forward to a “nice duel” with his friend Mbappe, but added that France did not rely solely on its star player.

“We’ll have to stop Kylian, but not just him,” said Regragui.

“Hakimi is very motivated to beat his friend.”

This composite image created on December 12, 2022 shows Morocco No. 02 defender Achraf Hakimi in December and France No. 10 Kylian Mbappe kicking the ball.
Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi (left) and French striker Kylian Mbappe (right) at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. [File: Jack Guez and Franck Fife/AFP]

The coach said the key to winning the match would be Morocco’s “team spirit” and the support of the fans at Al Bayt Stadium, where French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to attend along with tens of thousands of attendees. Moroccan fans wear red clothes.

“We have the best fans in the world alongside the Argentines and the Brazilians. They are people who have come from anywhere in the world to support their country,” said Regragui.

“We’ll play like we’re at home and that’s the most important thing in the world.”

Regragui said his team is ready to “change the mentality” of Africa and has told his players not to settle for anything less than the first prize.

He said, “We will fight to move forward, for the sake of African countries, for the sake of the Arab world.”

The match has cultural and political connotations that go beyond football, as Morocco was under French rule from 1912 to 1956.

Director of Morocco Walid Rekragui
Moroccan national team coach Walid Rekragui during a press conference in Doha, Qatar, December 13, 2022 [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

They won’t stop

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris warned, on Tuesday, that the confrontation with Morocco will be close and difficult.

“Believe me, they won’t stop,” said Lloris of Morocco, adding that France will need to raise their level and be at the top of their game.

Asked about Morocco’s famously impenetrable defence, Lloris said the key lay in breaking them down “as early in the match as possible”.

Team coach Deschamps also described Morocco’s defense as “the best at the World Cup”.

Morocco have only conceded once – and that was an own goal – in the tournament so far, but Deschamps said France will find a way around it and “break it down and create opportunities for ourselves to score goals”.

Deschamps has once again identified Antoine Griezmann as a potential winner.

“He’s the type of player who can really change the team because he works hard and is very talented technically,” said the Les Bleus boss.

Morocco goes into the semi-finals looking to add France to their impressive list of victories after beating Belgium, Spain and Portugal. Their qualification to the quarter-finals made them the first African and Arab country to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.

But the Blues are not the favorites to defend their 2018 title in Qatar, and if they win the tournament they will become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Brazil in 1962.

The winner of the France-Morocco match will face Argentina in the final on Sunday.

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