Morocco’s historic run is one of the many storylines to come out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Morocco made history as the first African nation to make it to the semifinals of the World Cup. While they did eventually lose 2-0 to France in the semifinal, the Moroccan national team exceeded all pre-tournament expectations. Let’s discuss Morocco’s historic run in the 2022 World Cup and what could lie ahead for the North African nation.
Morocco Won a Group with Croatia, Canada, and Belgium
Given the strength of the other teams in Group F, many people did not expect Morocco to even make it out of the group stage of the 2022 World Cup. However, Morocco drew 0-0 against Croatia before beating Belgium 2-0 and beating Canada 2-1. As a result, Morocco not only advanced to the knockout stages, but they did so as group winners. Morocco made history by doing so, becoming the first African nation to win its World Cup group since Nigeria in 1998.
Croatia made it to the final of the 2018 World Cup. Morocco showed impressive resolve to manage a 0-0 draw against them. The Moroccan team demonstrated their defensive strength once more against Belgium and Canada. Morocco stunned Belgium with two late goals and held on for a 2-1 win against Canada. Belgium were second in FIFA world rankings heading into the 2022 World Cup. Canada had finished at the top of CONCACAF World Cup qualification ahead of the United States and Mexico.
As such, both teams were expected to be too strong for Morocco, but the opposite was true. Morocco then advanced to play Spain, who won the 2010 World Cup.
Morocco’s Historic Run: Morocco Eliminated Spain
Morocco were underdogs yet again when they faced Spain, who won the 2010 World Cup. Even with Spain’s attacking talent, Morocco’s defense frustrated them and the two sides played out a 0-0 draw in the first 90 minutes. Neither side could sore in extra time and so penalties would decide the match.
Morocco held its nerve in the penalty shootout against Spain, winning the shootout 3-0 and advancing to the quarterfinals to face Portugal. Bono, Morocco’s goalkeeper, was excellent once again in this match. Morocco made more history in making it to the quarterfinals.
Morocco Stunned Portugal
Portugal didn’t go into the 2022 World Cup as one of the favorites to win the tournament, but they were still heavily favored against Morocco. Portugal’s national team is filled with star players from Bruno Fernandes to Cristiano Ronaldo. Nevertheless, Morocco defended well and Bono kept another clean sheet as Morocco beat Portugal 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal from Youssef En-Nesyri.
Portugal dominated possession, but failed to find enough quality in the final third to penetrate Morocco’s defense. Morocco were fairly clinical in front of goal, converting one of the three shots on goal in the match. With that, Morocco eliminated another European giant from the tournament and made history as the first African team to reach the semifinals of the World Cup.
Morocco’s Historic Run: France Beat Morocco 2-0
Unlike Spain and Portugal, France were one of the favorites going into the 2022 World Cup as the winners of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. France clearly had the talent advantage, but Morocco performed admirably in a 2-0 defeat. Morocco defended well overall, but ultimately were found lacking in the final third against France’s stout defense.
That ended up being their downfall as Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani scored for France. That brought an end to Morocco’s run in the 2022 World Cup, but they exceeded all expectations and beat heavily favored opponents on multiple occasions. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Morocco do well in the 2026 World Cup which will be held in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
Morocco Face Croatia in the Third Place Play-off Game on Saturday
Prior to the World Cup final between France and Argentina this upcoming Sunday, Morocco will face Croatia once more in the third place play-off game. While this match is for little more than a consolation prize, Morocco can still end their participation in the 2022 World Cup on a positive note. Regardless of what happens, Morocco has made it clear that they are far better than many expected them to be. Betting on Morocco to beat Croatia in the third place play-off game is a good bet, given Morocco’s performances at this World Cup.
Check back next week for more 2022 World Cup content.