Didier Deschamps’ men are heavy favourites to win at the Al Bayt Stadium but face a Morocco team that have conceded just one goal in a remarkable giant-killing run that has seen them become the first team from Africa ever to reach the last four of a World Cup.
Morocco have already upset 2010 champions Spain and highly rated Portugal on the way to the semi-finals, a record that left France captain Hugo Lloris warning his teammates against complacency.
“When a team is capable of beating Belgium, Spain and Portugal, and finish top of their group, it is because they have lots of quality on the field and undoubtedly off it too, in terms of cohesion and team spirit,” Lloris said.
“They will be formidable opponents, and on top of that there will be a hostile atmosphere in the stadium.”
Deschamps’ team are closing in on a third World Cup triumph in seven tournaments but will be aware that no team have retained the World Cup since Pele’s Brazil performed the feat in 1962.
– Fan factor –
Wednesday’s game will have added spice given France was Morocco’s colonial power and more than a million Moroccans live in the country.
Their not-so-secret weapon on Wednesday will be the incredible support from fans in the stadium and across the Arab world.
“There is a popular fervour behind them,” said Deschamps. “It will be very noisy and my players have been warned about that. They know what to expect.”
Morocco coach Walid Regragui, who was born near Paris and spent most of his playing career in the French league, believes his team have become the neutral’s favourite.
But he is adamant his side are not just there to make up the numbers.