France's Raphael Varane was speaking at a press conference today. PA
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Varane insists France must avoid Morocco ‘trap’ to earn place in World Cup final

The defending champions are just two victories away from becoming the first side to retain the World Cup trophy since Brazil in 1962.

RAPHAEL VARANE INSISTS France will not “fall into the trap” of simply thinking a place in the World Cup final is theirs for the taking.

The defending champions are just two victories away from becoming the first side to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962 after reaching the semi-finals with a hard-fought win over England on Saturday.

Standing between them and a final against Argentina or Croatia are Qatar 2022 surprise package Morocco on Wednesday.

Les Bleus are strong favourites to get through but Varane is not taking anything for granted against a Morocco side who have conceded just one goal on their unexpected run to the last four.

The Manchester United centre-back said at a press conference: “We have a lot of experience and will not fall into the trap of thinking we’re favourites.

“If Morocco have reached the semi-finals it is not down to luck. They defend really well and it is going to be a really difficult game.

“It is up to us, with our experienced players, to push forward. We are going to have to fight really hard and we will not think it is easy.

“We have to give 100 per cent and fight until the end. You have to earn a place in the final.”

Morocco, the first African side to have reached a World Cup semi-final, drew with Croatia in their tournament opener before going on to beat Belgium, Canada, Spain and Portugal.

They continue to carry the hopes of both their continent and the Arab world in Qatar.

Varane said: “I think they are a very solid team, very difficult to out-manoeuvre.

“They are writing history for their country and have amazing strength as a team. They have some really strong weapons, are good on the counter-attack and from set-pieces.

“We are expecting a very difficult match. We know there is no second chance. This is a very high level of competition we are playing at.”

While the dynamic Kylian Mbappe has commanded most of the attention for France in the tournament after scoring five goals, it was Antoine Griezmann, with two assists, who proved the game-breaker against England.

Varane said: “He is playing to the best of his abilities. He has amazing technical capabilities and can regulate the tempo of a match.

“He has a lot of confidence and brings a lot to the team on and off the pitch.”

For the latest news coverage on the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, see here >

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