France payers during a training session.© AFP
France defender Raphael Varane has insisted that there will be no complacency from the World Cup holders when they take on surprise package Morocco in the semi-finals on Wednesday. Having edged out England in the last eight, Les Bleus are strong favourites to return to the final even though Morocco have already eliminated Spain and Portugal in the knockout phase in Qatar. “We have enough experience in the team to not fall into that trap,” said Varane, one of the survivors of France’s victorious 2018 World Cup campaign, when asked about the danger of over-confidence.
“We know Morocco are not here by chance. It is up to us experienced players to make sure everyone is prepared for another battle.”
France have reached the target set by the country’s football federation of getting to the last four but Manchester United defender Varane said the team were hungry for a place in Sunday’s final against Argentina or Croatia. “It is not easy to get to a World Cup semi-final so we are very pleased, but the only real objective is to win it,” he said. “That was always the aim.”
Fellow defender Jules Kounde was full of praise for a Morocco team that have made history — the first African side to reach a World Cup semi-final and the first Arab team to do so. Walid Regragui’s men beat Portugal 1-0 in the quarter-finals after dumping out Spain on penalties in the last 16.
They also beat Belgium and drew with Croatia during the group phase and have conceded just a single goal, from an own goal, in their five matches so far. “They are very compact, with lines that are close together, and they leave little time for the player on the ball to organise himself,” said Barcelona right-back Kounde.
“They also run really fast, so we’ll need to play with few touches, move the ball around quickly and try to unbalance them by moving from one side to the other.”
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