World Cup 2022: Messi, France, Morocco’s history-makers – the themes of the semi-finals

World Cup 2022: Messi, France, Morocco’s history-makers – the themes of the semi-finals

Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Protection: Stay on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Stay, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport web site and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull protection particulars

Saturday’s defeat by France means the World Cup dream is over for England.

However 4 groups – Argentina, Croatia, France and Morocco – stay in Qatar, every nonetheless hoping to carry the trophy in per week’s time.

It’s a semi-final line-up few might have predicted, however one with loads of intriguing storylines which might play out over the approaching days…

Is that this Messi’s second?

The obvious semi-final subplot surrounds Lionel Messi and whether or not the Argentina celebrity can win the World Cup for the primary time.

Messi has had a glittering profession, profitable 10 Spanish league titles, one other in France, 4 Champions Leagues, the 2021 Copa America and a report seven Ballon d’Or awards – given to the world’s greatest participant annually.

However, not like different all-time greats, reminiscent of Brazil’s Pele or Argentina’s Diego Maradona, the 35-year-old has not been in a position to win the game’s greatest prize.

It’s 36 years since Argentina, runners-up in 2014 with Messi, had been led by Maradona to their final World Cup win.

Might Messi repeat the feat – and in doing so maybe safe his legacy as the best of all of them?

Extra to cheer for Morocco?

Morocco have already made historical past.

They’re the primary African crew, and the primary Arab facet from a rustic with a Muslim majority, to achieve a semi-final of a World Cup.

Regardless of having an skilled squad with numerous high-profile gamers, reminiscent of Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Paris St-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi, the Atlas Lions have defied expectation to achieve this stage.

They topped a gaggle together with Croatia and Belgium, earlier than beating Spain within the final 16 and Portugal within the quarter-finals.

Their success has been constructed round their steely defence and relentless work-rate. No opposition participant has scored in opposition to Morocco up to now in Qatar – they’ve conceded simply as soon as, an personal objective in opposition to Canada.

They’ve additionally been one of the passionately supported groups in the course of the event.

Organisers have stated this World Cup isn’t just about Qatar, however is for the Center East area and Muslims as an entire. Might they’ve extra to cheer on Tuesday?

Can France return to again?

However standing in Morocco’s means are one other of Europe’s greatest sides, France.

Les Bleus are attempting to do what no-one has managed since Brazil 60 years in the past in 1962 – efficiently defend the boys’s World Cup.

Actually, lately the holders have struggled. Italy, Spain and Germany have all exited early as reigning champions over the previous 12 years, however France have banished that curse.

Saturday’s win over England meant they turned the primary defending champions since Brazil, in 1998, to achieve the semi-finals.

Supervisor Didier Deschamps, although, is concentrating on Morocco.

“You are getting forward of your self,” he stated, when requested concerning the prospects of a second ultimate in a row.

Might Croatia do it once more?

We might but have a repeat of the 2018 ultimate, if France beat Morocco and Croatia can see off Argentina.

Croatia are again within the final 4 after one other unimaginable present of resilience.

They beat Denmark and Russia on penalties en path to the ultimate 4 years in the past, and this yr have come by shootouts in opposition to Japan and Brazil.

It’s 24 years since they final received a World Cup knockout sport in 90 minutes – a 3-0 win over Germany within the 1998 quarter-finals.

Croatia’s efforts this yr have been much more exceptional given their midfield maestro Luka Modric is now 37.

Regardless of the additional minutes, he has seemed pretty much as good as ever.

Argentina, who misplaced 3-0 to Croatia within the 2018 World Cup group stage, will know to not underestimate them.

The best way to comply with the semi-finals

France v Morocco, which kicks off at 19:00 GMT on Wednesday, can be proven reside on BBC One and iPlayer within the UK.

Argentina v Croatia, at 19:00 on Tuesday, can be on ITV.

Commentaries on each video games will even be on BBC Radio 5 Stay and the BBC Sounds app, whereas there can be reside textual content commentary with clips, evaluation and social media response on the BBC Sport web site and app.

Vote – who will win the 2022 World Cup?

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World Cup 2022: Messi, France, Morocco’s history-makers – the themes of the semi-finals

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