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Bayern Munich's Dayot Upamecano and Noussair Mazraoui (l-r.) face off when France meet Morocco in the World Cup last four. - © DFL 2022
Bayern Munich's Dayot Upamecano and Noussair Mazraoui (l-r.) face off when France meet Morocco in the World Cup last four. - © DFL 2022

Dayot Upamecano vs. Noussair Mazraoui: How do the Bayern Munich teammates turned 2022 World Cup rivals compare?


A place in the 2022 World Cup final beckons for either Dayot Upamecano or Noussair Mazraoui. How do the Bayern Munich pair stack up ahead of Wednesday's semi-final between France and Morocco?

Dayot Upamecano

A big presence for the big stage, Upamecano has looked right at home at the heart of the France defence. The 24-year-old had won just seven senior international caps prior to the finals, but has started all but one of his country's five games ahead of the last four. When he was rested against Tunisia, with his nation already through to the knockouts, Les Bleus suffered a 1-0 defeat.

Statistically, Upamecano is France's most accomplished defender, leading the way for interceptions (seven) and ball recoveries (29). The 6'1" sentry also ranks as his country's second best passer behind midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni. Given his heady mix of graft and guile, it's no wonder the Bayern No.2 is keeping Liverpool counterpart and ex-RB Leipzig teammate Ibrahima Konate out of Didier Deschamps' starting line-up.

Watch: Dayot Upamecano - tactical analysis

Upamecano's efforts are merely a continuation of his rock-solid form at club level. The Frenchman is Julian Nagelsmann's most-used central defender so far in 2022/23, starting all 15 of Bayern's Bundesliga fixtures at the expense of either Matthijs de Ligt or countrymen Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard. Handsomely justifying his place in the pecking order, he's the record champions' top dog for challenges won (180) and pass completion (92.54 percent).

"Dayot's potential is huge," Nagelsmann said earlier this season. "He hasn't always had it easy, but his development this past year has been world class. His build-up play is fantastic, and he's always been able to defend. Gone are the odd moments of ball watching. He's always active, and seeking to have the ball. There's no one as stable at the back as him in the national team."

Noussair Mazraoui

Mazraoui's ears should also be burning, even if hasn't enjoyed quite as much playing time in this, his debut season on the books of Germany's most successful club. The three-time Eredivisie winner initially found Pavard blocking his route to Nagelsmann's preferred XI, but began five of Bayern's six group-topping UEFA Champions League encounters, as well as six of their final 10 Bundesliga assignments prior to the World Cup, producing three assists.

"The way he attacks and defends is fantastic," commented Nagelsmann after Mazraoui helped Bayern record a 2-0 home win over Barcelona in September. Morocco coach Walid Regragui clearly holds a similar view. Despite the 25-year-old being a right-sided defender by trade, he has been deployed on the opposite flank at the 2022 finals, only missing the quarter-final win over Portugal through injury.

Mazraoui has gone up against the likes of Gavi, Ferran Torres, Kevin De Bruyne and Alphonso Davies. Only the latter - his teammate and Bayern's first-choice left-back, who lined up as a right winger in Canada's 2-1 loss to Morocco in the groups - found a way through to score. And not from a position the North African outfit's inverted full-back would have been expected to occupy, either.

A consummate professional, Mazraoui is among Morocco's top three for passes completed (82 percent), challenges won (eight) and interceptions (17) - numbers that serve as a timely reminder as to why Bayern snapped him up in the first place. Whether he returns to Munich with a World Cup medal or not, the former Ajax academy graduate is - like the immovable Upamecano - one of the unsung heroes of the tournament.