World Cup Betting Guide: Wednesday 12/14/22

The second semifinal sees France put their title defense on the line against Morocco. Will the favorites prevail, or will the underdogs continue their history-making run all the way to the final?

The second semifinal of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup pits defending champions France against a Moroccan side that’s entering uncharted territory when it comes to major tournaments.

A French win would see the holders back in the final for the first time since Brazil in 1998 -- and for just the fifth time in the competition’s history -- while victory for Morocco would make them the first nation outside of Europe or South America to reach the tournament’s deciding match.

Either way, history will be made Wednesday on the outskirts of Doha.

Read on for more details on how the tournament’s second semifinal could play out, and be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for the latest World Cup odds and more!

France (-440 to advance) vs. Morocco (+320)

Al Bayt Stadium | Al Khor, Qatar | 1pm ET

Up to this point, many of the greatest emotional moments at this first World Cup held in an Arab country have been authored by teams from around the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia’s shock victory over Argentina on Matchday 1 and Iran’s inspirational win over Wales on Matchday 2 come to mind, but those results have been overshadowed -- and then some -- by the trailblazing efforts of a Morocco side that has refused to lose over the last three weeks.

At No. 22 in the latest FIFA World Rankings, the Atlas Lions aren’t exactly minnows, but few expected them to escape a group that featured pre-tournament favorites Belgium, 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia, and CONCACAF champions Canada.

But Morocco didn’t just advance from that quartet; instead, they topped the group with a pair of wins and a draw before extending their stay in Qatar with heroic shutout victories over giants Spain and Portugal.

Unbeaten and still yet to concede a goal to the opposition in this tournament (they gave up an own goal versus Canada), Walid Regragui and company now set their sights on another of the world’s great soccer powers, the last team in their way before a shot at eternal sporting glory.

While World Cup 2022 has been one of firsts for this team from North Africa, their semifinal opposition has become accustomed to deep runs at major tournaments over the last 40 years.

Les Bleus are one of the game’s true bluebloods, capturing two World Cups and two European championships while reaching the semis a staggering 10 times in those competitions since 1982.

Pre-tournament injuries to Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and others made some question if this French side could replicate their title-winning success of four years ago in Russia, but Didier Deschamps’ men have proven otherwise so far after topping their group without fuss and taking care of business against Poland and England in the knockouts.

Defensively, France have been prone to giving up goals -- they’ve conceded once in all five matches they played in during this tournament -- but like Morocco, they’ve been difficult to play against all month.

To that point, both of these sides ranks in the top four in tackles per match and in the top 10 in interceptions per match, and both have held their opposition to fewer than 10 total shots per game.

But it’s on the offensive end that the two differ.

France have averaged 15.6 shots per game and 6.0 shots on target per match -- third in the field in both categories -- and the 11 goals they’ve scored is more than double the five Morocco have bagged in Qatar.

Still, despite Morocco's reputation of being defensive-minded, don’t mistake the Atlas Lions for a team that parks the bus and plays for a draw.

Even though they’ve spent one-third of the tournament defending in their own end -- a factor in their paltry 31.6% possession numbers, second-lowest in the field -- they’ve been deadly in transition and on crosses, with four of their goals resulting from counterattacks.

Interestingly, the French would prefer to hurt teams in transition, as well, so they’ll have to find different ways to break down the tournament’s stingiest defense with nine or ten men between them and the goal.

If France can get out front, it’ll be tough to envision a comeback from this banged-up Moroccan side who have yet to trail in Qatar and might be without three of their first-choice defenders Wednesday.

Still, if we’ve learned anything from this tournament and the final Arab nation left standing in it, we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss this Atlas Lions’ side, especially as they’ll be playing in front of a hugely partisan crowd once again.

So could there be one more great moment for the Arab world in this competition? If there is, the World Cup -- and sport in general -- would be all the better for it.

Going Deeper: Not surprisingly, numberFire’s projections give France a 78% chance to win, just a few percentage points below the win probability assigned to Morocco’s previous opponents Spain and Portugal. A France win would extend their quest to become the first team to claim back-to-back World Cups since Brazil did the feat in 1958 and 1962.

Call To Action: Morocco are prepared to sit deep and defend, so expect France to have the majority of the ball and create chances in this match. Therefore, if you like France to win, don’t hesitate to take the French victory combined with Les Bleus having more corners and more shots on target in each half (+320).

Outside of that, it feels like the match will go one of four ways:

1) France score early on an injury-ravaged Morocco backline, add a second or third at some point, and cruise to another major final.

2) Morocco stymie the French for most of the match before Mbappe and company finally break through, either in regular or extra time.

3) Morocco get a goal on the counter against a sometimes suspect French backline and hold on at 1-0 for another shock win.

4) A scoreless draw leads to penalties, where it’s anyone’s guess who advances.

If you like Option 1, France to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 gives you some additional value (+135) over taking Les Bleus straight up (-440).

If you prefer Option 2, France to win in extra time (+850) offers more risk but more reward.

If you’re feeling Option 3, roll the dice on a 1-0 Morocco win (+1500).

And if we end up at Option 4 -- which wouldn’t be a surprise, really -- taking the under 0.5 goals (+810) and tabbing France (+1000) or Morocco (+1300) to win on penalties would be a lucrative move, though you might be better off taking either team win the shootout (+550) to save yourself additional stress.