World Cup quarterfinals: Morocco on the verge of history against Portugal as Kylian Mbappé’s France face England



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Morocco have already caused an upset in the last 16 when they beat Spain on penalties to make it to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, but the North Africans will have to replicate their heroics if they are to get past a regrouped Portugal.

Later in the day, a blockbuster quarter-final game will pit old enemies England and France against each other.

“Before it was just Moroccans who supported us, now it’s Africans and Arabs,” Morocco manager Walid Regragui said of his team’s trip.

Cats have become the darlings of the World. In the first “Arab” World Cup, they became the first Arabs to qualify for the quarters of the World Cup and, as the first African side to qualify for the quarters in over a decade, they represent more than just themselves. nation

Born in Madrid, Achraf Hakimi scored the goal to knock Spain out of the World Cup.

But this was not the heroic performance of a dog driven by his fortune.

The Moroccans have the last defense in the match, conceding only one own goal. Despite the most difficult run to the last eight of any of the quarterfinalists – fellow play-offs Croatia, Belgium and 2010 World Cup champions Spain along the way – only Argentina conceded fewer shots than the Atlantis Lions.

When teams make long shots, they have to contend with Yassine “Bono” Bounou. The Sevilla keeper did not concede a goal to an opposing player in over 300 minutes of the game, including a penalty shootout where he saved two penalties.

After three or four key players were injured in the previous match against Spain and a list of grueling fixtures that included matches against the second, seventh and 12th nations in the world, Morocco is down to the bare bones. But that alone will not appease his spirit or his ambition.

When asked about going deep into the tournament, head coach Regragui said, “Somewhere in Africa, we have to be ambitious and why not win the World Cup?”

In Morocco, in typical history-making fashion, the Portuguese side looked, for the first time under Fernando Santos, fully relaxed and playing to their attacking potential as they thrashed Switzerland 6-1.

But to realize the potential of the team, Santos made the most difficult decision of his career, leaving out the greatest player of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite a brilliant career and the title as the greatest goalscorer international football has ever seen (118 goals in 194 caps), there are signs that age is finally catching up with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Ronaldo is yet to score a goal in the World Cup knockout game.

On the other hand, at the age of 37 as one of the most famous athletes, later Gonçalo Ramos was making his first start for the national team, and he took his luck with aplomb.

The 21-year-old Benfica striker scored three goals to help Portugal dominate Switzerland. The last player to score a full World Cup debut was Miroslav Klose, who is now the competition’s all-time record scorer.

But Ramos is not the only player who has been relieved by Ronaldo’s absence. His former Manchester United team-mate Bruno Fernandes was at his creative best and Atlético Madrid star João Félix looked to be the player who has long been considered the man to take the torch from Ronaldo.

Last time the two teams met in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup in a frantic game that Ronaldo settled with the only goal of the match.

No team has scored more than 12 at the World Cup in Portugal, but can unstoppable Portugal beat unstoppable Morocco?

The biggest match of the round is left to the last world champion France, trying to become the first country in 60 years to retain the World Cup, the English team is taking on almost reaching only the third semifinal.

Although both sides feature the world’s best players, eyes inevitably turn to Kylian Mbappé. Moreover, PSG was nothing short of this sensational tournament. He has scored five goals in just three starts, already surpassing his total since 2018.

Mbappé has already surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup goalscoring record and equaled Lionel Messi at nine.

The biggest question ahead of the game is whether England can rally.

“England has prepared Kylian, but he is in a position to make a difference,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “We have other players, but Kylian is Kylian and he can make the difference.”

Kyle Walker, who is likely to be the defender of closing roles with Mbappé, was confident when asked about it.

“I understand what I need to do and that is to stop him,” he said. “Probably easier said than done, but I don’t do minor things myself.”

But Mbappé is not the only threat to the French development. On the opposite side is Ousmane Dembélé, who is not quite as efficient as Mbappé, but is no less dangerous with a hard pace and full back. Among the runners is Olivier Giroud, who became France’s all-time record goal scorer earlier in the tournament while operating as a plate for the wide men.

Behind the front three is Atlético’s man Antoine Griezmann, who after a few difficult seasons faces the player who won both the Euro 2016 and 2018 trophies.

Despite the excellent performances of Harry Maguire and John Stones in England’s central defense so far, there have been no close tries from this attack in a major tournament.

Harry Kane is the all-time leading scorer in major leagues with 11 goals.

However, unlike in previous tournaments, England have plenty of tools to damage their vulnerable French defence.

Along with Portugal, the Three Lions are the top scorers in Qatar. They won the previous two legs 3-0, and for the first time this century they come into the match with a team deeper than their opponents who have been hampered by a number of injuries.

Like Giroud, Harry Kane is on the verge of becoming England’s all-time record goalscorer. He is now only one goal behind Wayne Rooney’s 53.

Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford have three goals a piece, although neither has been guaranteed a starting spot, and Jordan Henderson made an unexpected return to the starting line-up with an excellent result. The Liverpool captain scored the opener against Senegal and added much needed balance to the team.

With two stellar attacks – and two unconvincing defenses – this game has the potential to be the best of the entire tournament.

Mauritania Portugal: On Saturday, December 10, 10 AM ET at Al Thumama Stadium

England and France: Saturday, December 10, 2 pm ET at Al Bayt Stadium

US: Fox Sports

UK: BBC or ITV

Australia: SBS

Brazil: SportTV

Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom

Canada: Bell Media

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Also Read :  Classy Netherlands knocks USA out of World Cup at last 16 stage

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