After 63 games, 166 goals, and 30 eliminations, only two teams remain at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
On Sunday, Argentina will face off against France for the world’s most important trophy. This game will be watched by billions of people all over the world, before the World Cup goes into hibernation for another four years.
The biggest talking point of this match is Argentina’s star player, Lionel Messi. The Argentinian is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, and winning this trophy would surely cement his place as the greatest to ever play in the mind of many. Messi has won just about everything he could possibly win in his soccer career, with only the World Cup missing from his trophy cabinet. Messi, who is now 35, has said that this game is likely to be his last ever World Cup game, his final chance to take the trophy home. This is his fifth World Cup, and the farthest he’s made it since he lost the final to Germany in 2014.
France are the defending champions, led by star player Kylian Mbappe. The 23 year old already has a World Cup trophy to his name, taking the competition by storm in 2018 when France won. Mbappe already has 9 World Cup goals in his career, 4 in 2018 and 5 in 2022.
Argentina started the tournament poorly, the victim to one of the biggest World Cup upsets of all time in their first game, losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia. The game made many reconsider if this was really to be Argentina’s year, and if Messi was going to end his career without a World Cup trophy. Argentina proved their worth in the games after. A dazzling display from Messi against Mexico saw them win the second game. After beating Poland 2-0 and Australia 2-1, they had a huge quarter-final match against a strong Netherlands side.
The 2-2 tie was very physical, with 18 yellow cards being shown, the most in World Cup history. Argentina won on penalties, with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez making excellent saves in the shootout. Argentina showed both weaknesses and strengths in this game, proving they are able to win penalty shootouts, but also can lose their temper and their defensive structure if the game is tight.
In the semi-final, an incredible display from 22 year old striker Julian Alvarez saw Argentina stroll through Croatia 3-0, and show their incredible attacking ability.
France came into the tournament as defending champions and once again favorites to take home the trophy for a third time in their history. The French started strong, destroying Australia 4-1 in their first game. Mbappe was the hero in the second game against Denmark, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win. Mbappe showed that he would be a constant threat to every defense in this tournament.
After a disappointing loss to Tunisia, France dominated Poland in the round of 16 with another amazing display from Mbappe. France then had their biggest match yet, a quarter-final against an in-form England side. France won this game 2-1, but conceded 2 penalties in the process, one of which England captain Harry Kane missed.
France needs to be more careful in the penalty box, as fouls will be reviewed by VAR, and more likely than not called as a penalty. In the semi-final, France beat Morocco 2-0, cementing their spot in the final.
France and Argentina both have incredible attacks, capable of beating any defense in the World. France’s midfield is equal to Argentina’s, as both have a strong physical presence and good passing skill. France’s defense is insanely fast, and can catch up to any speedy player in the world. Argentina’s defense is more physical and holds a strong presence in the back.
Their goalkeepers are what will make the difference. Argentina’s Martinez is 5 years younger and 3 inches taller than the French goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris. Martinez is incredible at saving penalties. The quarter-final against Netherlands proved this when he made two amazing penalty saves to win the game. Lloris is also an amazing goalkeeper, but he lacks height, which is important during a shootout.
My prediction: Argentina 1-1 France, Argentina wins on penalties.