Football World Cup: France's journey to the "absolute dream"

Kylian Mbappé returned the love greetings from the Moroccan team quarters that night.

Football World Cup: France's journey to the "absolute dream"

Kylian Mbappé returned the love greetings from the Moroccan team quarters that night. The star player of the Équipe Tricolore reacted to the "See you soon" message from his friend Achraf Hakimi on Twitter with three red hearts.

The World Cup semi-final between world champions France and the sensational selection of Morocco on Wednesday (8:00 p.m. CET) will be very special - not only because of the internet hearts of the two teammates from the glittering Paris Saint-Germain club, which is supported by World Cup host Qatar.

France coach praises Morocco

"Are we already talking about Morocco instead of England?" asked France coach Didier Deschamps in the Al-Bait stadium after the somewhat fortunate 2-1 quarter-final victory against the British. It was the first question at the obligatory press conference, while the players and coaches usually give the impression that they would rather embark on the journey across the desert highways to the hotel. But Deschamps took his time.

"There aren't many who can say they expected Morocco to be in the semi-finals," said the 1998 world champion. "They deserve to be where they are." Meanwhile, in France, thousands of cheering Moroccans roamed the streets on the Parisian boulevard Champs-Élysées "in a trance," as the specialist newspaper L'Équipe wrote. Much of Morocco was a French protectorate until the mid-1990s - hundreds of thousands of Moroccans live in France.

"It's a historic moment for them," Deschamps replied when the second question was not about the defeated Three Lions, but about the Moroccan lions from the Atlas. So far he has only seen the first half of the 1-0 win against Portugal.

And when, at the end of the question game, the deep marks of the great Brazilian teams of 1958 and 1962 came up, Deschamps said with a smile and apparently grateful what football coaches like to say. "We have to focus on Wednesday first," said the 54-year-old, the next game, the "next important step". As the first world champion since Brazil 60 years ago to win the title for the second time in a row, that's "an absolute dream" for Mbappé too. The opportunity in Qatar seems huge. President Emmanuel Macron is expected for the semifinals.

Giroud is thinking in 2018

"It reminds me of the mentality and dedication of 2018. This group deserves to go that far again," said Olivier Giroud, who paved the way with his final goal. Aurélien Tchouaméni put France ahead and England captain Harry Kane equalized from the spot. Because the Brit chased a second penalty kick into the spectator stands in the desert tent arena, the pictures of the laughing Mbappé and the celebrating French went around the world of football.

"There was singing and dancing in the dressing room. The federation president Noël Le Graët came, Lilian Thuram and Claude Makélélé. It's wonderful to see these feelings in the locker room," said Giroud. Four years ago in Russia, the 36-year-old was one of the regular players, but didn't even shoot at goal and therefore didn't score a goal. Giroud has four goals in Qatar.

"We have the quality in the team, but you also need the right attitude. Maybe we were a bit lucky. We're enjoying it for now," said Deschamps. And then Morocco is waiting.