France booked a spot in the 2022 World Cup final by beating Morocco 2-0. The victory gives France the chance to become the first repeat World Cup champions since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.
This drops Morocco to third place. Still, this is the best finish for an African team at the World Cup.
Throughout the tournament, Morocco relied on strong defensive play. It would steal a goal from a set piece or hold out on penalties, like against Spain. For reference, no team scored against Morocco in their five games at the 2022 World Cup. The only concession was an own goal against Canada. The Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, aka Bono, has a legitimate chance of winning the prize for best goalkeeper.
The problem was the other team’s offense. France is ashamed of wealth on the field. Therefore, it is fitting that two players who were not meant to start or even appear in the tournament grabbed both goals.
Unlikely French goalscorers
All the chatter of this World Cup in the French camp has been Kylian Mbappé’s five-goal game. Or it revolved around Olivier Giroud who set the French goalscoring record with four goals.
However, it was not about Theo Hernandez. The left back was reserve for his brother Lucas Hernandez. However, when Lucas suffered a serious injury against Australia in the first game in the group stage, Theo naturally fit in.
He attempted a wild high kick after a deflected shot that beat Bono. It was only his second goal with the national team. The other actually sent France to the 2021 UEFA Nations League final. It was 1-0 to France within the first five minutes.
Then Randall Kolo Muani scored the insurance goal in the 79th minute. The interesting thing about Kolo Muani is that Didier Deschamps did not originally select the player for the World Cup. Instead, he only joined the squad as one replacement for Christopher Nkunku. Remarkably, that was Kolo Muani’s first goal in the French kit. Not a bad time to get it.
France reach another World Cup final
Morocco had more ball possession. The Atlas Lions had 62% possession against France’s 38%. However, Hugo Lloris and the French defense always had an answer. The one time it didn’t work, the post rejected a goal. Jawad El Yamiq attempted a bicycle kick that forced Lloris into a desperate dive. Then the clink of the post denied an equalizer.
France were the better team on the day, even though Morocco may have looked more creative. An early injury to Romain Saiss, one of the tournament’s defenders, hurt Moroccan safety at the back. Nevertheless, Morocco tempered Kylian Mbappé’s attempts.
France now has an appointment with Argentina in the World Cup final. In many ways it is a battle of the ages. Kylian Mbappé, just 23 years old, may have two World Cups to his name before he really reaches the prime of his career. Or Lionel Messi can end his international career with the one trophy he is missing. Appropriately, Sunday’s World Cup Final ticks all the boxes for a fantastic intercontinental showdown.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Ulmer/Team photo
Guide to World Cup 2022
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