At the end of this game, one nation will leave with a third star while the other the consolation of a silver medal. For Argentina, a lot of the build up to this game will be about whether Lionel Messi can finally lead his nation to World Cup glory, following in Diego Maradona’s footsteps in what could put him clear as the best player in footballing history.
But for Argentina as a whole it’s about ending their 36-year wait for a third World Cup trophy and banishing the heartbreak of 2014 when they were beaten by Germany after extra-time. The 2022 World Cup started in defeat to Saudi Arabia but since then Argentina have been formidable, topping their group before beating Argentina, Netherlands and Croatia in the knockout stages. When Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia there were early references to Spain’s 2010 World Cup win when they lost their opening match — Argentina are just one win away from replicating La Roja.
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France, on the other hand, are looking to become just the third nation to win back-to-back World Cups after Italy in 1934 and 1938, and Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Les Bleus will have taken early confidence in the competition of breaking the recent curse of defending champions which usually sees them knocked out at the group stage, and they have grown as the tournament has gone on.
Finishing top of their group, a stage only soured by defeat to Tunisia when qualification was already secured, France beat Poland 3-1 in the last 16 to set up a quarter-final tie against England which many believed would produce the World Cup winner. England were dispatched as were Morocco in the semi-final, as France became the first team to score against the African nation at this World Cup (excluding own goals). Now, history is within reach.
Before the 2022 World Cup, Lionel Messi hadn’t scored in the knockout stages of the tournament, but now he has three in three games. Against France, Messi will be looking to become the first man to score in four consecutive World Cup knockout stage games in the same tournament. And should he do so, it could also seal the Golden Boot – though Kylian Mbappe will have his say on that too, with the pair tied on five goals.
Mbappe would also have his say on who the GOAT is, ready to defend Cristiano Ronaldo for an hour according to former PSG teammate Abdou Diallo.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is literally everything to Kylian Mbappé,” he told the Mail.
“If you mention Lionel Messi against Cristiano, Mbappe will debate with you for at least an hour. For him, Cristiano is untouchable.”
The opening half of the World Cup final is likely to be a shaky affair, with things opening up after half time. Argentina’s games at this World Cup have seen 17 goals scored, with 12 coming after half time, while France’s games have also seen 12 goals scored in the second half.
11 February 2009 – France 0-2 Argentina – Friendly
7 February 2007 – France 0-1 Argentina – Friendly
26 March 1986 – France 2-0 Argentina – Friendly
6 June 1978 – Argentina 2-1 France – World Cup
This will be the fourth time Argentina and France have met at the World Cup. Incidentally, the last two winners of this fixture at the World Cup have gone on to win the tournament, so it’s fitting that they will do so again only this time as a direct result.