The majestic Lusail Stadium in Qatar will witness the birth of the first Middle-East and winter World Cup champion. 30 teams have fallen before we reached this finale and one of these two-time former world champions, Argentina and France, is to go home with the third World Cup title in their history of international football, while the other will leave the tournament as the agonising second-best team. Excitements and tears are guaranteed in a final that is bound to see both teams trade blows, but when the final whistle blows, is Lionel Messi, arguably one of the best players to ever grace the game of football, going to have his hands on that elusive trophy at last, or Les Bleus going to be the first team to defend a world title since Brazil did it more than six decades ago?
Tough Route to the Final for Both
The journey to earn a place in the final has not been easy for Lionel Scaloni’s men and Didier Deschamps’ side; The former had to survive an early scare in the group stage after falling to Saudi Arabia in a comeback defeat in their Group C opener and managed to finish top of the group by winning two of the remaining matches. They fended off two potential comebacks against Australia’s Socceroos and the Netherlands in the Round of 16 and quarterfinal, before stomping past last edition’s runner-up, Croatia, with a resounding 3-0 victory.
While the latter, on the other hand, started their campaign well with two wins in their first two games. Booking a ticket to the last 16 stage in advance meant they need not field a strong side against Tunisia in their final group fixture, allowing the starters to gain sufficient rest to beat Poland with a 3-1 scoreline. Their next match was by far the toughest among all last 8 stage matches as the Three Lions were roaring the entire match, but England sadly could not make full use of its chances and had a penalty shot way above the bar on its way to a 2-1 loss. The French team fought a determined dark horse, Morocco in the semifinal before reaching its second consecutive World Cup final.
Messi vs Mbappé
The Argentina-France final is not just about winning the world title, but also the battle between both sets of no. 10s, who happen to be teammates for French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain. Despite both claiming that there are no dressing room issues or power struggle problems between both forwards in the club, Mbappé’s admiration towards Messi’s arch-nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo, alongside many other matters such as personal ego made this matchup even more intriguing than it already is. Furthermore, with five goals and three assists as well as five goals and two assists, both La Pulga and his club teammate are also in the chase of the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards.
Defeating Croatia in the semifinal meant La Albiceleste made it into its sixth World Cup final, a record that is only surpassed by Brazil’s seven and Germany’s eight appearances in the history of the World Cup, while Les Bleus’ fourth appearance in the final is twice as many as other nations in the period that spreads from 1998 to 2022. Sunday’s final between the two football powerhouses would be the 13th meeting, with history having a penchant for the Argentines as the team from the South American region is leading with half a dozen wins against their European opponent’s three. Nonetheless, the last matchup between the two former world champions came in the Round of 16 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where Les Bleus eliminated the Messi-led side with a tough 4-3 win.
Which team will rewrite the history book and become a three-time world champion in the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar?
(Photo Credits: FoottheBall)