Argentina faces France in the final of the 2022 World Cup on Dec. 18.
This is the biggest match in international soccer and the winning team will receive the sport’s most prestigious prize.
Here are five things to know about the match.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is coming to an end this weekend when France FC and Argentina FC fight it out to lift the coveted trophy. The world cup has been wildly entertaining, with its fair share of shocking upsets, meme fests, and viral moments. So it’s safe to expect the final to offer a truly incredible and memorable experience as well.
As in any world cup, certain players have stood out from the crowd due to their skills on the field, and not surprisingly, a few of them have managed to make it to the 2022 FIFA World Cup final as well. So with the final just around the corner, let’s take a closer look at the five players who can single-handedly change the flow of the match.
This is Lionel Messi’s last World Cup match
The Argentina captain, arguably the greatest male player in history, has confirmed this will be his final match at a World Cup.
“There’s a lot of years until the next one and I don’t think I have it in me and finishing like this is best. (I feel) a lot of happiness to be able to achieve this. To finish my World Cup career playing my last game in a final,” he said after Argentina’s semifinal win against Croatia.
This is the fifth World Cup for Messi, 35, and Sunday’s final will be his 26th appearance in the competition – the most of any male player. Messi was a losing finalist in 2014 and throughout the tournament there has been a feeling the Argentina players are desperate for their captain to fulfill his dream this year.
Kylian Mbappé is eyeing his second World Cup – and first golden boot
French forward Mbappé is only 23 and one match away from lifting his second World Cup. Reigning champion France is aiming to become the first nation to win consecutive World Cups since Brazil 60 years ago.
As Messi’s stunning playing career nears its end, Mbappé has the world at his feet, wherever his club future lies. As well as another World Cup win, Mbappé is eyeing the golden boot award for the tournament’s top goalscorer. He is tied on five goals with – you guessed it – Messi. The Argentine has the current edge thanks to his three assists, one more than Mbappé.
There is more to both teams than their biggest star
While Messi and Mbappé are undoubtedly the stars of their respective teams, the supporting casts have impressed too. Strikers Julián Álvarez (Argentina) and Olivier Giroud (France) each have four goals and their own shots at the golden boot.
Argentina’s young midfielders Enzo Fernández, 21, and Alexis Mac Allister, 23, have also enjoyed excellent tournaments. For France, Antoine Griezmann has been quietly and consistently excellent and Aurélien Tchouaméni, 22, has been so impressive in central midfield the team hasn’t missed the injured Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
Messi and Mbappé are the stars, but their teammates have helped them shine.
Neither defense is flawless
It feels like a long time ago, but it is less than a month that Argentina started its World Cup campaign with a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia.
Those who had backed the La Albiceleste to win the tournament suddenly looked foolish. The center-back pairing of the aggressive but sometimes erratic Cristian Romero and 34-year-old Nicolás Otamendi had looked shaky against an unfancied team. Argentina has looked more solid since that match but still conceded goals to Australia in the Round of 16 and two late on against Netherlands in the quarterfinal.
France’s defense is also not impenetrable. The semifinal win against Morocco was France’s first clean sheet of the tournament and Morocco was unlucky not to score, having created several good chances. England also had several opportunities to add to its single goal in the 2-1 defeat to France in the quarterfinal.
While neither team has a flawless defense, both have goalkeepers in good form. Hugo Lloris, France’s captain, has looked confident and displayed his usual athletic shot-stopping ability. Argentina’s Emiliano Martínez has also been solid and added to his growing reputation as a penalty expert.
History – and the crowd – is on Argentina’s side
The historical head-to-head record doesn’t feel especially relevant for a huge match like the World Cup final. That said, of the 12 times these two nations have played one another in men’s soccer, Argentina has won six, with three matches drawn. France, though, won the most recent encounter. That was at the 2018 World Cup, when France beat Argentina 4-3 in a thrilling Round of 16 match in which Mbappé scored twice. Argentina’s last victory against France was in 2009.
Overall in the World Cup, both nations have won the trophy twice. France won in 1998 and 2018 and Argentina in 1978 and 1986.
Perhaps more important than historical results is the support each team will receive in the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium for Sunday’s final. Argentina has been well-supported throughout the tournament and it is expected to feel like another match on home turf. Argentina’s embassy in Doha says between 35,000 and 40,000 Argentine fans are in Qatar for the World Cup – they will all be hoping for a seat at the final.
5 Players To Look Out For During The France Vs Argentina
1. The Ace: Kylian Mbappé
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
The star player to watch out for during the Argentina and France final is undoubtedly Kylian Mbappé. The France FC forward player has had an incredible tournament, scoring five goals so far. All eyes will be on him as he’s also in the race to win the coveted Golden Boot this year, with only one other player in the running to potentially overtaking him.
2. The Veteran: Lionel Messi
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
In what is said to be his last match, tournament, and FIFA World Cup playing for the Argentina National Team, Lionel Messi is poised to make history. Not only can he help win his nation their third World Cup, but he can also win the coveted Golden Boot if he manages to overtake Kylian Mbappé. Messi has been in incredible form throughout the tournament, putting up a great performance in match after match. Not only is he tied with Mbappé as the leading World Cup goal scorer, but he has also rescued his team on multiple occasions by scoring crutch goals, making brilliant assists, and motivating his teammates. If Argentina end up winning the tournament, it’ll be because of Messi.
3. The Marksman: Olivier Giroud
Club: A.C. Milan
Just like Messi, Olivier Giroud is another senior player in the tournament who is in incredible form. Having scored four goals already, including a crucial header against England that secured France’s place in the semi-final, it’ll be interesting to see how he performs in the final against Argentina’s defence. Don’t be surprised if, yet again, Giroud ends up scoring a crutch goal that decides the match and gets his nation the trophy.
4. The Protégé: Julián Álvarez
Club: Manchester City
The youngest player on this list has also had an incredible FIFA World Cup so far. Don’t let his age let you underestimate him as he’s actually been a leading goal-scorer for his country, right behind Messi. His four goals also include two that were scored against Croatia in the semi-final. In fact, one of those goals was the result of a brilliant solo-run that showed an incredible amalgamation of skills, control, and speed. We are truly seeing a star-making world cup run from the Argentina FC player which might just culminate with Álvarez’s best performance in the final.
5. The Wild Card: Hugo Lorris
Club: Manchester City
Here’s the wildcard of the match. French Goalkeeper Hugo Lorris deserves as much credit for France FC’s dominance as the team’s strikers. Having made some incredible saves against England and a spirited Morocco, Lorris will be instrumental in deciding if France lift the trophy or Sunday. Lorris also plays in the same club as Julián Álvarez, so he might be able to hold of the young Argentinian player in ways other goalkeepers can’t.