World Cup Final

With only one game left to wrap up a very exciting tournament, Argentina and France head to the 80,000-capacity Lusail stadium on Sunday to decide which nation will be crowned the World Champions.

France will be looking to become the third nation in history to win back-to-back World Cups, while Argentina will become the second nation to win the World Cup after losing their opening game of the tournament. 

Whichever way you look at it, there’s a lot to play for, and not just because it is the most important game in football. 

Here’s a look at the final. 

Argentina vs France

It is South America vs Europe again to decide which continent has the best footballing nation on the planet. For many football fans, seeing Messi in the final of the World Cup again after the defeat in 2014 is the perfect ending with only seeing the trophy in his hands possibly trumping this sight. However, on the other side is the player expected to take the reins from the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar as the world’s best, Kylian Mbappe.

Messi vs Mbappe, Argentina vs France, it’s the World Cup Final that’s somewhat fitting with the way the tournament has gone, albeit with a bit of a helping hand from people in “godlike” positions within the footballing hierarchy.

ARGENTINA has had an eventful tournament losing to Saudi Arabia in their opening game, but going on to the league with victories against Mexico and Poland. In the knockout stages they beat Australia 2-1, then almost got sent packing by the Netherlands in a feisty match that ended the referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz’s World Cup after Lionel Messi’s outburst. The Spanish referee brandished 18 yellow cards throughout the match which was criticized.

Since that match, the South American team has been allowed to go about doing as much damage as they please knowing that the referees will be more reluctant to go to their pockets. To this moment, it is baffling how Argentine midfielder Leandro Paredes has only received a solitary yellow card in the tournament.

Starting line-up: 23. E. Martinez (GK) — 26. Molina, 13. Romero, 19. Otamendi, 3. Tagliafico — 11. Di Maria, 7. De Paul, 24. Fernandez, 20. Mac Allister — 10. Messi, 9. Alvarez.

FRANCE has done unbelievably well to make the World Cup Final with half-a-dozen players missing from their starting line-up. The likes of Kimpembe, Kante, Matuidi, Benzema, Pogba, and Nkunku are all starters which shows the strength and depth that France has. Players like Rabiot, Tchouameni, Upamecano, and France’s newly crowned all-time top scorer Giroud.

Just 48 hours before the final plenty of French players got sick including the defensive linchpin Raphael Varane. Luckily for France Varane will start the huge game.

So far the French have been very efficient rather than exciting with a somewhat fortunate victory against England followed by a clinical performance against Morocco. 

The European nation knows how to win knockout games, having won every game within 90 minutes during the last two World Cups. 

They are going to need to keep that run going if they are to stop Messi’s Argentina.

Starting line-up: 1. Lloris (GK) — 5. Kounde, 4. Varane, 18. Upamecano, 22. T. Hernandez — 8. Tchouameni, 7. Griezmann, 14. Rabiot – 11. Dembele, 10. Mbappe, 9. Giroud.

The first 15 minutes will be very telling to see how Poland’s Szymon Marciniak decides to referee the game. Argentina will undoubtedly try every trick in the book to win Messi his World Cup. If the Argentine team is systematically allowed to kick chunks out of Kylian Mbappe, then they will turn the game into a dogfight. If the game becomes a dogfight, then there’s only one winner, Argentina.

However, if the game is refereed correctly, France has to just stop Messi who has been fantastic throughout the tournament. Stop Messi, you stop Argentina. As good as Alvarez has been, he is not someone that can hurt an athletic French defence.

In contrast, Argentina has to stop Mbappe from sprinting past them, Griezmann from passing the ball behind the defence, and Dembele from getting into dangerous positions.

Expect France to allow Argentina to keep the ball knowing it will be tough for them to get in behind them. So, if Lloris can make sure to not fumble a shot from distance they should be in good stead defensively. Les Bleus will look to get the ball out wide to their two wingers and run past the defenders at pace. Let’s be honest, Mbappe ran past Kyle Walker on a few occasions which was an incredible footrace to watch – one worthy of the Olympics. Just knowing that should be enough to make Argentine full-back Molina extremely nervous.

The first goal is going to be vital! If Argentina scores, the one-sided stadium will erupt. If France scores, Argentina will start to feel that same feeling of pressure they’ve felt before in the World Cup.

A feeling of desperation, especially for one Lionel Messi who will see himself on the losing side once again.

Prediction: France to win in 90 minutes. (A little out there, but I am going 4-1) 

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