Star striker Kylian Mbappé and defending champions France will face Lionel Messi-led Argentina for the World Cup title on Sunday in a final that many had hoped for.
Kylian Mbappé’s France team are heading for a highly anticipated match against Argentina after their match. win on Wednesday ended Morocco’s historic journey at the World Cup.
President Emmanuel Macron was present as France beat Africa’s first team to the semi-finals 2-0, with Mbappé contributing to Theo Hernandez’s fifth-minute goals and substitute Randal Kolo Muani. at the 79th minute.
Mbappé became a global phenomenon when he led France to a World Cup title in Russia in 2018 and has a chance to cement his sport’s new superstar status when facing the 35-year-old. Lionel Messiwho dominated the game with cristiano ronaldo in the past 15 years.
For some, this is a dream final, with France looking to become the first team to retain the title since Brazil in 1962 and Argentina on a quest to win football’s final prize of the World Cup. Messi’s last cup.
“We need all our strength, all our energy to face a team that is very competitive with one of the legends of the sport with Messi,” said French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
The World Cup trophy wasn’t the only thing at stake on Sunday, with Messi and Mbappé both top scorers with five goals as they chased the Golden Boot award.
There will be no teams from the Arab world in the first World Cup final in the Middle East. Morocco has been widely praised for making a breakthrough for Africa, creating pride for Arab nations after topping a group containing Croatia and Belgium, while also knocking out two European powers. other – Spain and Portugal – in the knockout round. Their players also gave France a difficult trip, before collapsing on the pitch in despair after the final whistle.
Remarkably, Hernandez’s early goal was the first ever scored against them by an opposing player in the tournament – the other being a home goal in the group stage – but Morocco reacted to it and injury problem in the defense with a brave performance in front of goal. Tens of thousands of fans dominated the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium.
France was sometimes forced to defend until the last minute but had developed a knack for winning despite not playing at their best.
Mbappé helped lay the groundwork for Hernandez’s goal after his shot missed a defender and went into the path of the left-back, who let the ball bounce off before his shot sank into the back of the net. a narrow angle.
Typically a defensive team first, Morocco was forced to play despite reeling from the loss of Nayef Aguerd to injury in the warm-up and another centre-back, captain Romain Saiss, after just 21 minutes to a hamstring injury. Both players were suspected before the game but were risked by Moroccan coach Walid Regragui.
Cheered by the red and blue fans, Morocco came closest to the goal when Jawad El Yamiq hit the post in the 44th minute and forced France to defend in large numbers.
However, Mbappé enjoyed more space as Morocco tired at the end of the second half and, after dribbling past two defenders, his deflected shot was taken by Kolo Muani, who had just entered the field for less than a minute. currently successful.
The goal was celebrated on the VIP bench by Macron, who had flown in for the match and had previously visited the Souq Waqif market in Doha before heading to the stadium.
Mbappé is France’s leader on the pitch and although he has been kept relatively quiet by right-back Achraf Hakimi – his teammate at Paris Saint-Germain – he has shown deadly skills and pace. his men, including the 60-meter run on the left. There were supporters out of their seats.
In the end, Mbappé comforted the distraught Hakimi and they changed shirts before the French players ran in rows toward their small group of supporters behind one of the goals.
France will be in the final for the fourth time in the last seven World Cups.
And Morocco’s World Cup isn’t over yet – the team will play their third place match against Croatia at Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)