bundesliga

Moroccans in the Bundesliga, including 2022 World Cup bronze medal challengers Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui

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With Bayern Munich's Noussair Mazraoui and Morocco all set to face Croatia in today's FIFA World Cup bronze medal match, bundesliga.com takes a look at some of the other standout figures to have played for the North African nation and made their mark in Germany's top flight.

"You shouldn't start a journey where you don't believe in a happy ending." Prophetic words from Bayern's summer signing Mazraoui, who expressed strong belief in the Atlas Lions' chances at the finals during in an interview with his club's website prior to the tournament. The 25-year-old right back - who sat out Saturday's quarter-final victory against Portugal with a hip complaint - has been operating on the left side of defence for Morocco during their dizzying run to the tournament's last four.

Since his switch to Bavaria from Ajax last July, the full-back has made 18 appearances in all competitions for Bayern, weighing in with three assists in 11 Bundesliga games.

Mazraoui has brought his senior caps tally to 20 at the World Cup, featuring in Morocco's unbeaten run against Croatia, Belgium and Canada and the Round of 16 shootout victory against Spain. After missing out on the quarter-final victory against Portugal through injury, the Leiderdorp-born player returned to face France in the last four.

Bayern Munich's Mazraoui is dreaming of bronze medal glory with Morocco. - Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty

"I think that, technically speaking, we're one of the strongest teams who will be at the World Cup," Mazraoui said ahead of the competition. "We're going into the tournament with the attitude that we want to win it," the Bayern man added in words that attest to the player's huge conviction.

As well as Mazraoui, Morocco are currently represented in the Bundesliga by Mainz midfielder Aymen Barkok, although the 24-year-old failed to make the final cut for Walid Regragui's squad .

Barkok has featured six times for the 05ers this term as Bo Svensson's side ended the pre-World Cup break in mid table. The former Germay youth international - who boasts 18 caps with Morocco - first turned pro with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016 and was at the club when the Eagles enjoyed a run to DFB Cup glory in 2018 and again when Eintracht lifted the UEFA Europa League last May.

Watching his nation's current on-field feats from a Mainz training camp, Barkok told German publication kicker, "What they are doing is unbelievably good and I'm incredibly happy for them. Everyone fights for one another and the Moroccan fans create a fantastic atmosphere. Both are important for success."

Mainz's Aymen Barkok is supporting Morocco from afar. - /

Certainly, one player who will be looking on at Morocco's superb achievements in the Middle East with a tinge of bittersweet feelings is ex-Schalke attacker Amine Harit. The former Royal Blue - the Bundesliga's record appearance holder for a Morocco international - missed out on the finals after suffering a serious knee injury with current club Marseille.

Harit made 102 appearances in Germany's top flight, registering 12 goals and laying on 18 assists in that time. He was even named the 2017/18 Bundesliga Rookie of the Season.

Harit's name was cemented in Schalke folklore when he scored his first goal for Die Knappen back in November 2017. With his side at one point trailing 4-0 at Revierderby rivals Borussia Dortmund, the Morocco international scored Schalke's second of a thrilling fightback to reduce the arrears to 4-2. In one of the most iconic Bundesliga games of all time, the visitors subsequently managed to pull off their miraculous escape deep into injury time to rescue a point.

Watch: Amine Harit scores in all-time Bundesliga classic 

Harit's 12 Bundesliga goals is a joint record for a Morocco international, shared with journeyman Abdelaziz Ahanfouf, the striker who played in Germany's top tier for Hansa Rostock, Unterhaching, Duisburg and Arminia Bielefeld. Ahanfouf won his six senior caps for the Atlas Lions between 2004 and 2006.

Despite enduring several injury problems during his time at Bayern, Medhi Benatia lifted two Bundesliga titles with the Bavarian giants, winning a league and DFB Cup double in 2015/16. The central defender - who scored twice in 29 games in Germany's top division - joined Bayern from Roma in 2014, some six years after making his senior international debut for Morocco. Benatia went on to play for his country 66 times and enjoyed two appearances at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Medhi Benatia (r.) was a Bundesliga and DFB Cup double winner under Pep Guardiola at Bayern. - imago sportfotodienst/imago/photoarena/Eisenhuth

Meanwhile, one of the stars of the current Morocco setup is former Dortmund defender Achraf Hakimi, whose role on the right of defence means that his international teammate, the aforementioned Mazraoui, is operating on the opposite flank.

Hakimi enjoyed a successful two-year loan spell at BVB from Real Madrid between 2018 and 2020, scoring seven times and providing 14 assists in 54 Bundesliga games. The 24-year-old - currently playing at Paris Saint-Germain - also set a Bundesliga speed record during his time in Germany, clocking in at 22.49 mph during the 2019/20 season and then surpassing that high by hitting 22.49 mph in a game against RB Leipzig.

Hakimi (r.) was a fan favourite during his loan spell at Dortmund. - Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

"I improved a little in every area," Hakimi said of his time at Dortmund, when he twice won the African Young Player of the Year. He also enjoyed a special relationship with Borussia passionate supporters.

"Dortmund fans are known worldwide because they live football very intensively," the versatile full back explained. "We can feel that on the pitch. BVB fans are among the best in the world."

Hakimi will be hoping to light up the world once more when he adds to his 60 caps with Morocco against Croatia.