Morocco’s magical run ended tonight as France lived up to their billing of favorites and emerged triumphant from the second semifinal, setting up a showdown against Argentina in Sunday’s final. France are the first nation to reach back-to-back finals since Brazil around the turn of the millennium, and (West) Germany before then, and will be looking for their third title overall just as Argentina.
Regardless of what happened in this game, Morocco — who were captained by Hakim Ziyech for most of the game after an early injury to Romain Saïss — had already made history with their run to the semifinals, and they certainly didn’t look out of place today either. A couple bounces here or there, and we might’ve been looking at a very different outcome.
An audacious overhead kick from Jawad El Yamiq hit the post just before the break, while Morocco wasted countless opportunities in the second half to equalize — before a goal-line clearance from Jules Koundé and a late dagger from Randal Kolo Muani, taking advantage of a deflected shot to score his first ever international goal, put an end to Morocco’s hopes. France had grabbed an early lead inside of five minutes through Theo Hernández and had the better of play in the first half, but Morocco were quite unlucky at times to not find the back of the net.
And so, it’s a heavyweight matchup in the final, with a third-place game to precede that on Saturday between Croatia and Morocco. Not sure why that game is still a thing, but it could be a joyous footballing occasion with no pressure on either team to perform.