Morocco XI vs France: Will starting Ziyech and Hakimi inspire Atlas Lions past Mbappe’s side?

Comments (0)
Hakim Ziyech Achraf Hakimi Morocco.
Getty Images.
The Atlas Lions – seen as the underdogs going into the game – are hopeful that they can cause another upset in Qatar

Morocco head coach Walid Regragui has named his starting XI to face France in the World Cup semi-final at Al Bayt Stadium.

The Atlas Lions progressed to the last four after seeing off Portugal, while Les Bleus made their way to the semis after beating England.

There is a huge boost for the African nation now that Romain Saiss, who was injured in the last game, imakes it into the starting XI.

Meanwhile, Morocco are the first Arab or African nation to make it to the semi-finals of a World Cup and faces quite a daunting task as they face the defending champions.

Here's how Morocco are lining up:

  1. Yassine Bounou 
    @Getty

    Yassine Bounou 

    Bounou has been among the most outstanding players for Morocco in the tournament.

    An own goal by Aguerd remains the only one he has conceded, and Moroccan fans are hopeful he will keep France’s attackers at bay.

  2. Achraf Hakimi
    Getty

    Achraf Hakimi

    As he starts, he would probably cherish the prospect of facing his club teammate Kylian Mbappe, who has scored five goals in the tournament.

  3. Noussair Mazraoui
    Getty Images.

    Noussair Mazraoui

    The fullback was not available due to an injury, as Morocco caused another upset by eliminating the Selecao.

    He returns and replaces Yahya Attiat-Allah, who drops to the bench.

  4. Romain Saiss
    Getty Images.

    Romain Saiss

    Saiss was an injury doubt before this game, as he was stretchered off during the Portugal showdown.

    However, in a defensive boost for Morocco, the captain has been passed fit to face the Les Blues.

  5. Achraf Dari
    Getty Images.

    Achraf Dari

    Nayef Aguerd was selected at the heart of the defence but was replaced shortly before kickoff by Achraf Dari.

  6. Jawad El Yamiq
    Getty

    Jawad El Yamiq

    He made his first start when Morocco faced and overpowered Portugal.

    In a more defensive approach applied by Regragui, he has been maintained in the starting XI.

  7. Sofyan Amrabat
    getty

    Sofyan Amrabat

    Has produced top-class performances for the North Africans as he operates deep in the midfield.

    The back four will look to him for a proper cushion against the reigning world champions.

  8. Azzedine Ounahi
    Getty Images.

    Azzedine Ounahi

    A regular starter under Regragui, and his output – just like the rest of the players - has been impressive.

    Ounahi is expected to provide an effective link between the midfield and the striking department.

  9. Hakim Ziyech
    Getty Images.

    Hakim Ziyech

    Probably Morocco’s star that will be under critical surveillance from the Frenchmen.

    Will he show another masterclass and inspire the Atlas Lions to their first-ever World Cup final appearance?

    Or will he find it difficult to find a way past France’s backline?

  10. Youssef En-Nesyri
    Getty Images.

    Youssef En-Nesyri

    He paid off Regragui’s consistent faith in him by scoring the only goal that sent Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal out of Qatar.

    He leads the attacking line once more as they face the tournament’s favourites.

  11. Sofiane Boufal
    Getty Images.

    Sofiane Boufal

    As he has been all throughout the tournament, Boufal was lively along the flanks and posed constant threats to the Selecao.

    One of Morocco’s great sources of creativity, France should keep a close eye on him or he will cause havoc at the back for them.