The national team of France, known to many as Les Bleus, were expected to do well at the World Cup in Qatar; after all, they won the whole thing last time the tournament was contested. But we wonder how many BetOnline patrons would have predicted a repeat if they knew some superstar talent would be missing.
But the biggest surprise and best story at the World Cup has to be Morocco, ranked just 22nd in the world by FIFA, which has roared through some stiff competition to carve a path to the semifinals. You can't say the Atlas Lions haven't been challenged by anybody. But how many of these shockers do they have left in them?
We will find out as they lock horns in a semifinal game that will be televised at 2 PM ET on Fox Network. The winner will find Lionel Messi and Argentina waiting for them.
'France is playing without three superstar-level players: Paul Pogba of Juventus and N'Golo Kante of Chelsea have been members of the prestigious World 11. And Karim Benzema, who has scored 224 goals for Real Madrid, is the reigning Ballon d'Or (world player of the year) winner. That's a lot of talent to have lost.
Fortunately for coach Didier Deschamps, France has talent in profusion. Right now, the favorite to win the Golden Boot as the tournament's top goalscorer is Kylien Mbappe (-130), who has tallied 118 goals in 129 matches for Paris Saint Germain, and has five goals thus far in the World Cup. Messi also has five goals, and has a 3-2 advantage in assists (the tie-breaker), although Mbappe has a game in hand.
Olivier Giroud is right behind Mbappe with four goals, and he's perhaps bargain-priced at +1000 for the Golden Boot. He had the winner in the 78th minute to propel France over England in the quarterfinals.
Here is a look at the World Cup betting odds posted at BetOnline for this game. First there is the three-way prop that is good only for regulation plus injury time:
And then there are the odds to advance, which essentially offers odds on who will ultimately win the game:
France to advance (-400)
Morocco to advance (+315)
And here are some odds on the total goals to be scored (there are alternative lines as well):
Under 2.5 Goals -145
Over 2.5 Goals +125
Morocco has operated as an underdog practically the whole way. But they have had the kind of players who fit into the scheme Walid Regragui (who was only named the national team coach in May) has wanted to employ.
Make no mistake about it - this is a team that thinks "defense first," and that has been reflected in the fact that they have allowed just one goal in the entire competition, that being an "oen" goal against Canada when defender Nayef Aguerd inadvertently booted the ball into his own net against Canada. Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou has posted clean sheets against Belgium, Croatia, Spain and Portugal. We already know how powerful the Spaniards and Portuguese are; Belgium is second-ranked by FIFA and Croatia was the 2018 runner-up.
Admittedly Bounou hasn't been bombarded; he has faced just ten shots on target thus far (in case you're not familiar, this would be roughly similar to shots on goal in hockey).
Regragui, who grew up in Paris, has basically put out an umbrella in the defensive zone. Sofyan Amrabat is the designated defender who stsys close to the goal at almost all times. And he gets plenty of help. The most dangerous offensive force is striker Youssef En-Nesyri. But there's not much beyond him. And Morocco's possession time has been an abysmal 30%. So you've got to wonder whether they have enough "pop."
For that reason, it is tough to take a flier on the underdog here unless Morocco can get out there and score the first goal. if they do, however, you're likely to see them trying to run out the clock.
At the same time, you have to respect them for getting by all these opponents. So it might be worth a slight play at the price. What we like better, of course, is the UNDER. This will be a tactical, low-scoring game, and Morocco just may be able to keep the defending champs off the scoreboards.
Get a 50% Sports Welcome Bonus and a 10% Bitcoin Boost at BetOnline, and take a look at an extraordinary number of wagering options on the World Cup........ And no one makes it easier to get involved; all you have to do is use your credit card or any option off the huge list of cryptocurrencies they accept for deposits!