Regragui's team fought until the last minute in a match where they performed at the highest level

Morocco fall to French cyclone with honours

photo_camera PHOTO/@equipedefrance - France left-back Theo Hernandez beats Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bono with an acrobatic manoeuvre

Morocco will play for third place against Croatia. Next Saturday's match at 16:00 will be the first of their next stage at world level. Walid Regragui's side fell to the reigning world champions and a team worthy of repeating the championship with full honours.

Deschamps' France, Mbappé's France, Griezmann's France... a whirlwind of vertical football and passing into space that looked like it was going to take Morocco by storm.

The Atlas Lions roared on the French roosters who will never forget the victory that will see them play in their second consecutive final, now against Argentina. They had to earn it on the pitch.

Every split ball, every run, every Moroccan counter-attack had nothing to envy from the best teams in the world that have been in Qatar.

In the build-up, Regragui showed his more unfamiliar side by attacking those who accuse Morocco of not playing at all and of having turned the World Cup into a penalty contest. He ridiculed Luis Enrique's Spain, saying he was going to ask FIFA to give a point to the team that won possession.

Morocco manhandled Spain after they had swept Belgium aside. They worked hard to make good the goal against Portugal and worked hard to counter France. It looked as if they would not know how to play with the score against them, but the script this semi-final had in store was far more exciting than Argentina-Croatia.

Achraf and Ziyech were the leaders. Boufal asked for the ball and managed the game. Saiss gave his country 22 intense minutes of his battered body.

Still, Theo Hernandez at the start and Muani near the end left Morocco with no chance as they fought back to create chances in the 93rd minute by pouring forward on Hugo Lloris' goal. 

In the Al Bayt stands there were more than 40,000 Morocco fans out of the nearly 70,000 who turned out for the second semi-final of the World Cup. The federation had given away 15,000 tickets and chartered flights to make a historic match something more for the country.

Morocco has made World Cup history. They have managed every possible style of play and turned the semi-final into almost a final. Regragui has shown that he chose players to have the ball when the opposition required it, but also to defend and to come out on the counter. The composure that other coaches lacked leaves Africa's first team to reach the semi-finals as an example of football.

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