The climax of a dazzling edition of the World Cup tournament kicks off on Sunday afternoon at the Lusail Iconic Stadium, as Argentina and reigning champions France contest for global hegemony in a mouthwatering final.
This edition of the World Cup has already served fans with a number of refreshing encounters, coupled with surprises but the final promises to be even more exciting. Interestingly, both teams are two-time champions with France being the latest to win it with a win over Argentina en route to their victory four years ago in Russia.
This will be Argentina’s sixth final since the inception of the World Cup in 1930 and the Copa America champions will relish the opportunity to conclude an amazing journey over France. At least, they do not play Germany this time-the team which denied Argentina the title in 1990 and 2014. They last won the trophy in a win over West Germany in 1986 following their first over the Netherlands in 1978.
Les Bleus waited 20 years after winning their first in 1998 to clinch their second in 2018 when they saw off a great Croatian side in the final. France are also set to make their fourth appearance at the final of the World Cup. They only lost to Italy in 2006 in one of the most captivating World Cup finals.
Argentina may have started their campaign with a shocking loss to Saudi Arabia, but Lionel Scaloni’s men have rebounded with a series of inspiring performances which has moved them very near to achieving a goal pursued over three decades.
On the other hand, Didier Deschamps’ team can be on a streak of breaking records in ascending order. To break the “curse” on defending champions, they first had to win their group. Later, they became the first champions to advance to the final after Brazil in 1998.
On individual level, Olivier Giroud surpassed Thierry Henry’s 51 goals to become France’s all-time leading scorer after scoring his third goal at the tournament against Poland in the round of 16.
Antoine Griezmann also smashed Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane’s 26 assists to become the top assist provider in the history of France football. As for Kylian Mbappe, he is presently engaged in a goal-king contest with Lionel Messi, fellow PSG teammate.
While Deschamps strives for his third world championship (1998 as a player and 2018 as manager), he could become the second manager after Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo to win consecutive titles. The third country to defend the championship after Italy and Brazil in 1938 and 1962, respectively, could also be France.
France have scored thirteen goals with ruthlessness, but the fact that they concede in practically every game is concerning, even though they kept their first clean sheet against Morocco in the semifinal.
FORM GUIDE(PREVIOUS WORLD CUP MATCHES)
After losing to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener, Argentina have recorded 2+ goals in each of their subsequent matches. Aside from their defeat to Tunisia in their last group game, France have scored two or more goals as well.
13 December 2022 Argentina 3–0 Croatia Semi-finals, 2022 World Cup
9 December 2022 Netherlands 2–2 (a.e.t.) (3–4 p) Argentina Quarter-finals, 2022 World Cup
3 December 2022 Argentina 2–1 Australia Round of 16, 2022 World Cup
30 November 2022 Poland 0–2 Argentina World Cup Group C
26 November 2022 Argentina 2–0 Mexico World Cup Group C
22 November 2022 Argentina 1–2 Saudi Arabia World Cup Group C
14 December 2022 France 2-0 Morocco Semi-finals, 2022 World Cup
10 December 2022 England 1-2 France Quarter-finals, 2022 World Cup
4 December 2022 France 3-1 Poland Round of 16, 2022 World Cup
30 November 2022 Tunisia 1-0 France 2022 World Cup Group D
26 November 2022 France 2-1 Denmark 2022 World Cup Group D
22 November 2022 France 4-1 Australia 2022 World Cup Group D
HEAD TO HEAD(WORLD CUP MEETINGS)
In 12 meetings between the two finalists, Argentina have won six and lost three. However, out of those six are two wins and a loss in World Cup matches.
15 Jul 1930 France 0-1 Argentina FIFA World Cup
06 Jun 1978 Argentina 2-1 France FIFA World Cup
30 Jun 2018 France 4-3 Argentina FIFA World Cup
Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel are done serving their suspension and would be available for selection for the final match with the former, the most likely to return to the starting eleven. Di Maria may also be returning to the line-up after recovering from a minor injury.
(4-3-3): E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez
Didier Deschamps may be lucky once more to have his squad in good shape for the game as all injury and illness doubts returned to full training on Saturday.
(4-2-3-1): Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud