Breaking down Morocco's World Cup cinderella story

Breaking Down Morocco’s World Cup Cinderella Story

With a 1-0 quarterfinals win over Portugal, Morocco booked its ticket to the World Cup semifinals. If you put money down on Morocco to win this tournament before a ball was kicked in Qatar, you must be absolutely ecstatic right now. 

If you bet on Morocco back in November, I don’t have to tell you what the odds were then, but for all of us who didn’t, the Atlas Lions were at +25000 to win. That’s an implied odds probability of 0.43 percent with a still possible $25,000 profit on a $100 bet. That’s the type of potential profit that can make any bettor giddy.

Now that Morocco is locked into the semifinals, their odds are at +1000.

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Morocco’s World Cup Cinderella Story

Morocco’s appearance in the semifinals is truly historic. It’s the first time the North African nation has exited the Round of 16 at the World Cup and it’s also only the third time ever that a country outside of Europe or South America has made the semifinals. 

So how did the Moroccans do it? Obviously, winning is how they’ve done it. But what’s behind the winning they’re doing? What’s the secret to Morocco’s success?

Simply put, the answer is defense. We’ve all heard the famous line by Bear Bryant that “defense wins championships.” And while Morocco has obviously not won the championship, they’re just two steps away because they adhere to that one tenet. Defense wins championships.

Morocco’s Key is defense

No team has been stingier defensively at the World Cup than Morocco, which has yielded just one goal – and that was an own goal given up against Canada in the group stage. And they’ve played more games than 75 percent of the field. 

Let me blast you with some incredible defensive stats.

Morocco holds the eighth-lowest shots per 90 rate in the tournament at 8.44. They also hold the seventh-lowest shot-creating actions against per 90, the highest number of tackles won with 63, the second-highest number of interceptions at 51 and the highest number of blocks at 66.

If you weren’t convinced that Morocco is the best defensive team in the tournament, all of those numbers I just threw at you should sway your opinion.

France vs Morocco Semifinal

France is heavily favored to win their semifinal matchup with -190 odds, representing an implied win probability of 65.52 percent. And I don’t think that’s wrong, with all due respect to Morocco’s current run. A -190 moneyline wouldn’t return a great profit.

Where else should we place our money?

Total Going UNDER 2

Since 1990, seven semifinal World Cup matches have gone UNDER two goals. Mark this one down to be the eighth to go that way. Given how good Morocco has been on the defensive side of the ball – think back to all those stats I just listed – this game likely ends 1-0. Kylian Mbappe probably gets that one goal, in my opinion. Doing so would cement his Golden Boot credentials

Total Goals O/U
OVER  2.0UNDER 2.0


Total Attempts UNDER 22.5

France has averaged 15.6 shot attempts per 90 in this tournament while Morocco is averaging 8.44 shot attempts per 90. On an average day during the tournament, these two sides combine for just over 24 shot attempts.

As you likely know, this isn’t going to be an average game. It’s a semifinal matchup where a win sets up a date in the finals of the tournament. Both sides are going to tighten up – if that’s possible for the already tight Moroccans – which leads to fewer shots. The UNDER should hit, no question. 

Total Attempts O/U
OVER  22.5UNDER 22.5
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