Today at the World Cup: France and Argentina turn attention to Sunday’s final

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France reflected on reaching a second successive World Cup final, while Argentina continued their preparations for Sunday’s showdown at Lusail Stadium.

While Morocco’s dreams of glory may have ended, they must now pick themselves up for the third-place play-off against Croatia on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency wraps up all of Thursday’s news from Qatar.

Argentina regroup

Following a full day off, Argentina returned to training as focus turned towards the showdown with France.

The first part of the session was open to the media – who were left wondering why captain Lionel Messi and a some other key men were not among those involved.

There was, though, no need for alarm as the recovery session out on the grass was mainly for players who had not been fully involved in the win over Croatia.

Griezmann ready for Messi reunion

France forward Antoine Griezmann knows facing Messi will be “a totally different proposition” to anything else they have faced so far in Qatar.

Argentina’s playmaker – and Griezmann’s former Barcelona team-mate – has shone in what looks likely to be his fifth and final World Cup.

“Any team with Messi in is a totally different proposition. We have seen practically all of their matches at this World Cup,” Griezmann said.

“We have seen Argentina play, we know how they play. They are a difficult team to play and they seem to be on top form.

“Of course, not only Messi, they have a strong side around him, so we know it is going to be a tough game.”

Atlas Lions protest

Morocco captured the imagination with their run to semi-final, but could not conjure one more memorable result as their World Cup dream was ended by France.

While Wednesday’s match was decided on fine margins, the Morocco football federation (FMRF) was left less than impressed by the decision not to award a penalty when Theo Hernandez collided with Sofiane Boufal, who was booked for a foul, as well as a challenge on Selim Amallah at a free-kick, and have lodged a formal complaint.

“The Royal Moroccan Football Federation strongly protested the arbitration of the Moroccan national team match against the French national team, led by (referee) Cesar Arturo Ramos,” a statement read.

“The FMRF has written to the relevant body to review the refereeing decisions that deprived the Moroccan team of two penalties that were indisputable in the view of several refereeing specialists.

“The FMRF was equally astonished that the video assistant referee (VAR) did not react to these situations.”

Muani in dreamland

Randal Kolo Muani picked the perfect moment for his first France goal, scoring the crucial second against Morocco shortly after coming off the bench.

The Eintracht Frankfurt forward had only won three caps before kick-off and was a late replacement into the squad after injury to Christopher Nkunku.

The 24-year-old had only just come on when he tapped in at the far post with his first touch after Kylian Mbappe’s driving run into the Morocco box.

“You have to be ready to come on at any instant when the moment arrives,” Muani said. “Did I dream of scoring this goal six months ago? Of course – 10 years ago, even. This is a boyhood dream.”

Dalic targets bronze finale

Croatia are next up for Morocco in Saturday’s third-place play-off.

While the 2018 runners-up were left crestfallen after their 3-0 defeat by Argentina, head coach Zlatko Dalic maintains they will be going all out to sign off in style.

“Croatia did a fantastic job, above all expectations,” he said. “The game on Saturday is not a small final for us, it is the grand final.

“There is a major difference between finishing third or fourth.”

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Croatia v Morocco, third-fourth place play-off (Saturday 3pm, BBC One)

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