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Hakimi and Mbappe: A duel fashioned by fellowship

Since the Moroccan right-back moved to Paris Holy person Germain, the team has turned into the best of companions At the Al Bayt Arena in Doha on Wednesday night, when France takes on Morocco in the second semi-last of the FIFA World Cup, Kylian Mbappe will be facing against the “best right-back on the planet”.

Mbappe declared in a tweet in January of this year, “ACHRAF HAKIMI,” rather than us saying so. Best RB on the planet. However, it may be difficult to determine whether Mbappe, whose claim to the title of best footballer in the world right now is irresistible, is biased. Because Mbappe and Hakimi are best friends.

At the French club Paris Saint-Germain, they appear to be almost inseparable, playing video games, sharing meals, and sitting next to each other on flights. They even share their routine for celebrating goals. Prior to finding the net, Mbappe was known for his cross-armed slide. Now, he gets down on one knee, places his left hand’s thumb on his nose with the little finger extended, and puts his right hand behind his back.

In a Ligue 1 match against Lorient in April, Mbappe and Hakimi performed this routine for the first time. He has already scored five goals in this edition. Their friendship blossomed in July 2021 when Hakimi signed a five-year contract with the Parisian giants from Italy’s Inter Milan. They were born one month and sixteen days apart in 1998.

Their bonhomie should assume a lower priority on Wednesday as they support up for a mouth-watering match-up that is probably going to have a significant say in determining the end result of the game. Mbappe will try to do as much damage as possible from that left side, either by cutting in to take a shot with his dominant right foot or by beating Hakimi on the outside and crossing for Olivier Giroud, who stands tall.

The Moroccan player, who is 24 years old, will be aware of everything that is coming his way, but whether or not he has the tools to stop the French forward is another matter entirely. A 100-meter dash between the two is likely to be just as exciting considering their blistering speed even when the football is not nearby.

They saw this battle coming before any of us anticipated Morocco becoming the first African team to reach the World Cup semifinals. A 35-second YouTube clip of Mbappe and Hakimi inside the Education City Stadium in Doha reveals their foresight during the Paris Saint-Germain team’s January tour of Qatar.

Mbappe, who is having a conversation with Hakimi alongside him and says, “After we play against Morocco, I have to destroy my friend,” can be seen in the video. The latter immediately turns to face the camera and replies, “I’m going to kick him.”

Naturally, it was all lighthearted humor, but Wednesday’s game is serious business.

Mbappe has already faced England’s Kyle Walker in the quarterfinals, and now he faces another player who is hard to beat for speed. Additionally, Hakimi has the ability to advance on the right flank and launch attacks, despite the fact that he will need to maintain a defensive guard.

Since Mbappe isn’t inclined to play defense, Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech will be a threat against France left-back Theo Hernandez when Morocco has the ball. In any case, the friendship that Mbappe and Hakimi share highlights the relationships that football players form at their clubs.

Players are likely to know a lot more about their club teammates than they do about their countrymen because club football dominates the calendar for 10 months a year. They also know exactly how to play their games, which can work in their favor or against them in these rare international encounters.

Naturally, only one of them will make it to Sunday’s final. While the high-intensity matchup might cause some friction for as long as the game is played on Wednesday, you can be sure that once the game is over, they will return to being close friends.

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