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France goes to the World Cup final: Mbappé meets Messi

France beat Morocco 2-0 and prepare to defend their title in the World Cup final against Argentina, with Mbappé and Messi going head to head against each other.

December 14, 2022 4:52pm

Updated: December 14, 2022 10:18pm

The French national soccer team broke the curse of the champion and will play in the final of the World Cup four years after winning the trophy in Russia. At the Al Bayt stadium in Doha, France’s strength was tested by Morocco but finally showed its reliability to beat the "Lions of Atlas" 2-0. 

France was more effective and an early goal by winger Theo Hernandez settled the match against a depleted African team, which will have to settle for playing the match for third place against Croatia. 

France will now defend the cup against Argentina. Mbappé against Messi.

In front of a passionate Moroccan crowd, France managed to win, but not without much suffering. Surprisingly, the Africans had more than 60% of the possession. However, it took Didier Deschamps' men less than five minutes to break the Moroccan bubble. This is what Deschamps' Les Bleus are like, cynical and forceful in equal measure. Milan defender Theo Hernandez became the unexpected hero with his second goal for France, after starting the World Cup on the bench until his older brother Lucas, the starting left-back, ruptured his cruciate ligament in the opening 4-1 win over Australia.

Morocco had a bad start before the initial kick. Nayef Aguerd, the leader of the backline, was included in the starting eleven but suffered a muscle injury in the warm-up. Central defender Jawad El Yamiq chose the worst possible moment to slip when trying to cut out a clever through ball from Raphael Varane. When Antoine Griezmann gets this kind of space, it always makes the difference, the midfielder connected with Kylian Mbappé and his shot deflected off El Yamiq into the path of left-back Theo, who scored. 

Morocco played with all their heart, inspired by their rambunctious fans, found space in the French defense, and gave the other team a hard time, but goalkeeper Hugo Lloris prevented the African feat. First, he dived to his left to stop a fine long-range effort from Azzedine Ounahi and then did well to deflect onto the post what would have been a stunning bicycle kick from El Yamiq, who would have made amends for his mistake earlier in the match.

Ten minutes from game time, the final dagger struck the heart of the "Lions of Atlas." Mbappé drove into the box and his shot took a deflection to fall at the feet of substitute Randal Kolo Muani, who scored with his first touch. Kolo Muani's goal was the second-fastest goal scored by a substitute in a World Cup knockout stage match, 44 seconds after entering the field.

France will thus contest its second consecutive final and the fourth in its history, in search of its third star. We return to the Kylian Mbappé-Leo Messi duel, the two scorers of the World Cup in Qatar. And seeing Messi's form against Croatia, it will be an epic final between two soccer superstars.