France 'ready for anything' as hostile atmosphere awaits against Morocco at World Cup

Reigning champions face African side who are making history in Qatar - and will have backing of large support in Wednesday's semi-final

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France are “ready for everything” Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final against Morocco will throw at them, including an anticipated hostile atmosphere, according to captain Hugo Lloris.

The world champions sit two matches from becoming the first team in 60 years to successfully defend the trophy, but must first get past a spirited Moroccan side who have continued to make history in Qatar.

The North Africans are the first from their continent to reach a World Cup semi-final, and the only Arab country to do so. Also, they are unbeaten in the tournament in five matches, with impressive wins against Belgium, Spain – on penalties – and Portugal.

On Wednesday, at Al Bayt Stadium, Morocco are expected to have at least 20,000 fans there to support them – something Lloris says France will be well prepared for.

“They have beaten Belgium, Spain and Portugal and finished first in a very tough group – that tells you they are a quality side and will be tough opponents,” Lloris told reporters in Doha on Tuesday. “It will be a hostile atmosphere inside the stadium, but we are ready for anything.

“We have to show we are ready to raise the level and step up to the plate. We will need to be at the top of our game.”

Lloris, who in the 2-1 quarter-final victory against England became his country’s all-time leading appearance maker (143 caps), knows the pressure is on France to reach a second successive global final.

“In the preparation you need to remain calm and focused,” the goalkeeper said. “But there are no secrets. We are going to have to perform. That comes from working hard together, being mentally strong and scoring more goals than your opponents. That is what football comes down to.

“It is going to be a raucous atmosphere, tough to concentrate, but we have to remain focused and be very precise in terms of our tactical discussions before and during the match.

“We are all very excited and looking forward to representing our country as well as we can. We need to ensure we are patient, but at the same time go for it and try to break them down as early as possible in the match, while staying balanced to avoid being hit on the counter-attack.”

On the threat posed by a defiant Morocco side, Lloris added: “It is a unique opportunity for both sides to get to the final. Obviously, it is already a success for Morocco, but believe me, they won't want to stop here. They want to become even more of a hero for their country.

“We prepare to respond to the demands of a semi-final of a World Cup – it doesn't matter the opponent. We try to put all our strength into this game to make sure we do not have any regrets.”

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Updated: December 14, 2022, 10:26 AM