As we mentioned at the beginning of this analysis, even though the main focus was to analyze France vs England match, the other semifinalists of this World Cup, especially Morocco, and Croatia, also apply this pattern during their matches. Let’s start with Morocco, the surprise of this World Cup. Aside from mastering their defense in a mid-block or low-block, they have also been optimal when considering their offensive transitions. Like France, Morocco also applies the concept of ensuring width first in a transition before playing deep, usually to En-Nesyri who has provided excellent unmarking movements in the gaps opened in the opponent’s defensive lines. It must be understood that when playing wide first in these types of actions, the ball holder has more options to pass, leading to a higher probability to break through the defensive line and score. Additionally, Morocco players who give width to the attack, usually Ziyech and Boufal, also have high possibility to cross in favorable conditions after they can beat their rivals in 1v1 situations.
As we can see in the first example of the two shown below, Morocco plays wide to then find space in the central corridor again. At that point, En-Nesyri and Attiyat Allah are stretching Portugal’s defensive line and opening gaps for Ounahi to play in depth again to Attiyat Allah who can finish the action.
In the second example, it is Boufal who recovers on the flank and keeps progressing after beating two opponents. En-Nesyri detects the huge gap between Ruben Dias and Guerreiro (LB), who has not had enough time to come back to defend and separates from Dias to attack the gap. In this case, En-Nesyri is not providing maximum width, but optimal width, meaning he is offering the necessary width for the play to progress with advantage. The action is then ended with a long shot by Ounahi. Again, these actions happen at a very fast pace, where the opposition defence is in a state of disorganization, thanks in great part to ensuring width first before progressing in depth. Morocco has clearly understood that this is one of their main advantages, so we can also expect to see them do this in the upcoming semi-final against France.