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5 Morocco players who could miss World Cup semi-final

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Morocco’s journey through to the World Cup semi-final has been historic.

Walid Regragui’s side bested Belgium and Croatia to finish top of Group F, toppled 2010 winners Spain in the round of 16 and then downed Euro 2016 winners Portugal by the odd goal to become the first African nation to ever reach the final four.

The Atlas Lions have incredibly conceded just one goal in their five World Cup outings so far, and now have a mouthwatering semi-final tie with France to look forward to. But the delirium of reaching this stage of the tournament has been tempered, only slightly, by a number of knocks, injuries and suspensions to key players.

Here’s who could miss out against Didier Deschamps’ side.

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Nayef Aguerd picked up a thigh injury against Spain

1. Nayef Aguerd

Nayef Aguerd picked up a thigh injury against Spain

There was disappointment for central defender Nayef Aguerd as he limped out of the round of 16 win over Spain with a thigh problem.

Aguerd is believed to have suffered a ‘low grade muscle tear’ and he was unable to play any part in the win over Portugal. The setback is the latest disappointment for West Ham’s £30m summer signing, after he underwent surgery at the beginning of the season having been injured against Rangers in a pre-season friendly.

His chances of playing against France are slim.

Romain Saiss knew his race was run against Portugal

2. Romain Saiss

Romain Saiss knew his race was run against Portugal

How Romain Saiss was fit to face Portugal, only he will know.

Sadly, the former Wolves defender’s rushed return to the side ended prematurely as the hamstring complaint that troubled him against Spain reared its ugly head again.

The battle to be fit is now on, with his experience and leadership key to organising Morocco’s backline.

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Noussair Mazraoui

3. Noussair Mazraoui

Noussair Mazraoui

Another absentee from the win over Portugal, Noussair Mazraoui was initially hurt during the group stage clash with Croatia.

The Bayern Munich summer signing featured against Spain in the round of 16, but wasn’t fit enough to face Fernando Santos’ Portugal because of an ongoing issue with his hip flexor.

The injury isn’t believed to be serious, but the quick turnaround in games could make it difficult for him to line up against France.

Hakim Ziyech took a couple of kicks against Portugal

4. Hakim Ziyech

Hakim Ziyech took a couple of kicks against Portugal

One player Morocco will be desperate to have at 100% is playmaker Hakim Ziyech – the undisputed star in Regragui’s attack.

The Chelsea playmaker was withdrawn after 82 minutes against Portugal as Morocco looked to see out the game, but had taken a couple of kicks during the match.

His substitution was likely a combination of tactical changes and a precautionary measure, which could see Ziyech fit and firing by the time Morocco are lining up for kick-off against France.

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Walid Cheddira is sent off by referee Facundo Tello

5. Walid Cheddira

Walid Cheddira is sent off by referee Facundo Tello

One player definitely ruled out of the semi-final against France is Walid Cheddira, after he saw red for two late yellow cards against Portugal.

That means an automatic one-match ban that can’t be appealed – a heavy price to pay for what was a clumsy, unnecessary tackle on Joao Felix late on.

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EPL

Cody Gakpo reflects on first month at Liverpool

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Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has opened up on his first month on the books at Anfield, admitting he is still getting used to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics.

The Dutchman was wanted by a number of elite sides, with Manchester United expected to win the race for his signature, but it was Liverpool who snuck in and agreed to pay an initial £35m to bring Gakpo to England.

The 23-year-old, who made his name as a left winger but has spent time as a striker at Liverpool, is yet to score after four appearances for his new side, but he told club media that is it just a matter of getting to grips with his new surroundings

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“My feeling, personally, is everyone in the team has so much quality,” he said. “That is what I see in training and in phases in the games.

“It is also a part of football, that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. We just have to keep improving, working hard, and the quality will come out. Then, you’re going to see the real Liverpool.”

He continued: “From a football perspective, it’s a new environment on the pitch, with new players and a new team. I can tell it’s a really great group. Every day I am looking forward to working with them, to train hard and to play the games. I am trying to adapt as quickly as possible, to improve every day and in the end show the best version of myself.

“Off the pitch, to be honest, I haven’t been in the city so many times yet. Most of the time I have been in the hotel. I am moving this week, actually. That’s also something I’m looking forward to.”

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Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Gakpo also confessed that he is still trying to adapt to his new role in Liverpool’s team.

“It is a little bit different to what I’m used to,” the Dutchman admitted. “Normally, I have played on the left for almost the past three years.

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“It’s something I can improve, playing in the striker role, and I want to show my quality there. It’s a great position and playing there makes me more complete as a technical player.





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Fulham launch bid Fluminense midfielder Andre

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Fulham have made a bid to sign Fluminense midfielder Andre, 90min understands.

The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of Fluminense’s top players and a number of sides across Europe have expressed an interest in luring him away from his homeland in 2023.

Sources have confirmed to 90min that Fulham have approached Fluminense to try and thrash out a deal, but the Brazilian side are reluctant to part ways with their star player during the 2023 campaign.

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Andre, who has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool, has spoken out about the interest and insisted his focus remains solely on his current employers.

“Obviously, I’m focused and very happy,” Andre said recently. “I just renewed my contract until 2026.

“It’s normal to get offers, but I’m focused here on Fluminense and having an excellent season.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Andre’s agent, Carlos Leite, also took to Instagram to confirm that the 21-year-old had agreed to remain with Fluminense until the end of the current campaign, which runs over the entire calendar year.

“Thanks to the great work carried out, Andre entered the radars of some of the biggest European clubs and, with that, he has received several enquiries and some official proposals,” Leite wrote.

“However, the player and Fluminense, through president Mario Bittencourt, sealed an agreement for the midfielder to remain at the club at this time, with all the dedication and commitment, always seeking the best for Fluminense in all competitions.”

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Sporting CP manager makes Pedro Porro admission as Tottenham talks continue

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Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim has warned Tottenham that he will not take right-back Pedro Porro out of his starting lineup until a transfer has been 100% agreed.

90min understands Tottenham are confident they will get a deal over the line for the 23-year-old eventually, but Sporting’s reluctance to budge from their asking price of Porro’s €45m release clause has led to some lengthy negotiations which are not yet over.

And while Porro is still contracted to Sporting, Amorim will not hesitate to use the right-back and risk an injury which could see the entire move collapse.

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“Porro does not leave before the game,” Amorim said ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Cup final against Porto. “Clubs have to come first, and as far as I know, a player who is able to play and is signed up by a club, he has to go to games.

“I realise that [negotiations] involve a lot of players’ minds, but the indication I have is that Porro is fit, and the most important thing for me, as a manager, is that if he wasn’t there, there would be someone else. The game cannot be played with just one player. Porro is fit. Whatever has to happen will happen, we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Amorim continued: “Is this Porro’s last game at the club? I don’t know. There are a few days left until February 1, then everyone will know if Porro stays or leaves.

“Porro hasn’t left yet. We are scouting, but not everything is easy, you’re in a real hurry to send Porro away!”

Spurs have repeatedly tried to lower Sporting’s asking price for Porro by including at least one player in the deal, but the Portuguese side have been clear about their determination to hold out for the right-back’s release clause – in full.





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