World Cup 2022 day 25: Schedule, match and what to expect

Here is what is happening on day 25 of the World Cup when the second semifinal takes place.

morocco fans
Morocco have conceded just once in the tournament so far [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Match schedule:

France vs Morocco – Al Bayt Stadium, 10pm (19:00 GMT)

Team news:

  • Defender Dayot Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot are both doubtful to start after missing a training session on Tuesday due to illness.
  • Morocco have several injuries to contend with. West Ham centre-back Nayef Aguerd will miss the match after picking up an injury in the last-16 game against Spain. Romain Saiss will also miss the semi-final with a hamstring injury. Noussair Mazraoui’s position is in doubt after picking up a hip flexor injury in the round of 16. Walid Cheddira is suspended after receiving two yellow cards against Portugal.
Saiss is stretchered off against Portugal [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

What to expect:

  • France will head into this match full of confidence after edging past a strong England team in the quarter-finals. They will likely look to their free-scoring attack, which includes Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, to overcome a defensively solid Morocco.
  • The Atlas Lions remain unbeaten in five World Cup games and have only conceded one goal so far. Despite a raft of injuries, they will not be cowed by France’s reputation, having already knocked out giants Spain and Portugal en route to this semi-final.
  • Where France have shown attacking prowess scoring 11 goals this tournament, they have also shown some defensive fragility and have conceded in all five matches. Expect Morocco to use their defensive solidity to frustrate France as they try to snatch a goal on the break or from a set piece.

Players and match-ups to keep an eye on:

  • Antoine Griezmann is the unsung hero in France’s World Cup campaign. He may not be banging in the goals for his country any more, but in a less obvious way, he is proving a vital spark of creative flair. He provided both assists in France’s 2-1 win over England and will be key in unlocking the unyielding Morrocan defence.
  • Hakim Ziyech’s performances are a far cry from his underwhelming time at Chelsea. The former Ajax player has shown creative flair and dedication to his defensive duties so far at this World Cup and is one of Morocco’s stand-out players. On the right wing, he will face left-back Theo Hernandez, who struggled against the pace and trickery of England’s Bukayo Saka. Hernandez could struggle again against a sharp and motivated Ziyech.
  • Mbappe was largely kept at bay by an organised England team. Morocco has the best defensive record at this World Cup and boasts the likes of PSG’s right-back, Achraf Hakimi. Morocco manager Walid Regragui will have surely taken note of England’s tactics and will have a plan to subdue the prolific striker in this semi-final.
Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann has three assists at the 2022 World Cup [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Route to the semi-final:

  • In their opening group-stage match, France rode an early scare to beat Australia 4-1. Les Bleus then had to rely on the genius of Mbappe to overcome Denmark before losing 1-0 to Tunisia in the final group-stage match. They brushed aside Poland 3-1 in the last 16 before squeezing past England in a closely contested quarter-final.
  • Morocco have only conceded one goal, and that was an own goal against Canada. They topped their group after a goalless draw against Croatia and wins against Canada and Belgium. They then pushed Spain and Portugal out of the World Cup in the knockout stages.
Morocco’s goalkeeper Yassine Bounou has kept four clean sheets this tournament (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)

Head to head:

  • France Wins: 3
  • Morocco Wins: 1
  • Draws: 1

The teams last met in a friendly in 2007 that ended 2-2.

Source: Al Jazeera