The World Cup final is here as Argentina against France has so many incredible storylines, most noticeably Lionel Messi vs Kylian Mbappe.
Will the master, Messi, finally get the World Cup trophy he surely deserves? Or will the apprentice, Mbappe, grab his second World Cup? Both have been sensational at this tournament and are going head-to-head for the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.
The closing ceremony will take place before the finale, as the curtain comes down on the tournament in Qatar. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak will take charge of the biggest showpiece in the men’s game. This is the final game before the Premier League, and other top-flight leagues across the globe, return.
As for Argentina, they have grown into this tournament and Lionel Scaloni has created a hungry team which is capable of sitting back, then snapping into challenges and flying forward with Messi pulling the strings and the brilliant Julian Alvarez stretching opposition defenses. There’s a feeling of destiny when it comes to this Argentine side.
[ MORE: World Cup final odds, favorites, lines ]
France have willed their way to the final as they’ve rarely hit top form at this tournament but given all of their injury issues before it, we are seeing just how deep this France squad is as they go for back-to-back World Cup titles under Didier Deschamps. Like Argentina, they prefer to sit back and hit teams on the counter and of course that means finding Mbappe as often as possible.
Here is everything you need for Argentina vs France in the World Cup final.
How to watch Argentina vs France live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET – Sunday, December 18
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)
GOALLLL! Lionel Messi clips home the penalty kick as he keeps his calm to send Lloris the wrong way. 1-0 to Argentina.
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) December 18, 2022
PENALTY TO ARGENTINA! Di Maria clipped by Dembele in the box. Huge chance for Lionel Messi to open the scoring. Argentina have started the final much better than France.
🚨 ¡PENAAAAAAAL PARA ARGENTINAAAAAA!
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) December 18, 2022
Key storylines, players to watch closely
The key battle and storyline is obviously the master against his apprentice. Will Lionel Messi, 35, win the World Cup trophy he has coveted for the lengthy of his legendary career? Or will his PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, 23, lead France to back-to-back World Cups and the second of his young career? Elsewhere on the pitch the main battle will be fought in midfield.
The midfield trio of Enzo Fernandez, Rodrigo de Paul and Alexis Mac Allister have been sensational for Argentina, while defensively they are flexible to switch between a back four and five. Having Montiel and Acuna back from suspension gives Lionel Scaloni a selection headache as he looks to lead Argentina to their third World Cup trophy and their first since 1986 when the great Diego Maradona lead them to glory in Mexico. Can Messi do the same in Qatar? However, Messi has been nursing a sore hamstring this week and all eyes will be on him (naturally) and his fitness but he starts. Scaloni starts with a back four but Tagliafico starts ahead of Acuna at left back. Angel di Maria starts in place of Paredes, which points to Argentina having a go from the off.
As for France, well, they’ve battled their way through this tournament and the reigning champs have hardly been electric. But they’ve got the job done and are one win away from becoming just the third team in history to win back-to-back World Cups. Didier Deschamps was hit by huge injuries before this World Cup but his side have recovered extremely well with youngster stepping up. Ibrahima Konate came in for the semifinal and played very well but Dayot Upamecano starts ahead of him. Like Argentina, France still look a little shaky defensively. In midfield Antoine Griezmann is rolling back the years in his new deeper playmaker role and Aurelien Tchouameni has been superb playing in the holding role. Up top Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud are purring and give France incredible balance. Plenty of players have been hit by a sickness bug in the France camp, but all of them have recovered in time. There were also reports that Karim Benzema could return to the France squad for this final after he left just before the tournament kicked off due to injury and was never replaced but now he’s back fit. Deschamps refused to talk about that topic at length and Benzema is not included in the squad.
Voici le 1️⃣1️⃣ de départ pour notre 𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗽𝗲 𝗱𝘂 𝗠𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗲 contre l’Argentine ⚔️🔥
Coup d’envoi 16h00 sur @TF1 📺
— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) December 18, 2022
France quick facts
[ MORE: Argentina’s history at the World Cup ]
Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane
Path to 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group C; beat Australia 2-1 in last 16; beat Netherlands on penalty kicks in quarterfinals; beat Croatia 3-0 in semifinals
Argentina quick facts
[ MORE: France’s history at the World Cup ]
Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Emiliano Martinez, Nicolas Otamendi, Julian Alvarez
Path to 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group D; beat Poland 3-1 in last 16; beat England 2-1 in quarterfinals; beat Morocco 2-0 in semifinals