The role Mikel Arteta played in Morocco’s superb run to the World Cup semi-final

Mikel Arteta has congratulated Morocco manager Walid Regragui for inspiring the nation’s historic run to the World Cup semi finals.

Morocco have broken new ground in Qatar with their win over Portugal last week ensuring an African presence at this stage of the tournament for the first time.

Organisation, commitment and no shortage of technical quality have been hallmarks of Morocco’s shocking run which has also seen them eliminate Belgium and Spain.

It has since emerged that Regraugui took inspiration from a coaching seminar he attended through Zoom last year, hosted by the Arsenal head coach.

Arteta talked a number of managers through the plan he employed during Arsenal’s 2020 FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City when two breakaway goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang secured a win.

Regraugui is likely to implement a similar blueprint this evening against Les Bleus in an attempt to stifle the threat of France’s wide forwards Kylian Mbappe and Dembele.

‘The impact he’s having, he’s a total credit to them,’ Arteta said last night after Arsenal’s Dubai Super Cup win over AC Milan.

‘What he is doing is amazing, and what he is transmitting is great, and it’s a really positive thing for world football to have an African team at the stage. They’re one of four very select teams in this World Cup.’

Morocco are not the only country to have caught Arteta’s eye in Qatar, although the Spaniard was unwilling to elaborate on which players have impressed him the most.

He said: ‘There are a few, and a few national teams as well. A lot of things they are doing are very interesting and it shows where the game is going, where it is evolving, but as for players – I’ll keep that to myself!’


Arsenal welcomed back Ben White and Partey to the fold this week and Arteta will be keeping an eye on their fitness and mental state ahead of the Premier League resumption on Boxing Day.

He said: ‘Thomas played a lot [at the World Cup] and obviously he was disappointed at the way that he had to leave, but it happens to every nation when they go out, and it takes a few days to reset and start to focus on the team.

‘The good thing we have is that everyone has been showing that they are desperate to get back, and they want to be ready as quickly as possible and it was great to have those two back today playing some minutes.’

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