Messi seeks glory, Argentina meets France in World Cup final

Many people will judge the once-in-a-generation career of the Argentina superstar by whether or not he helps his country win the World Cup on Sunday.

Can he finally, at age 35, win soccer’s biggest prize and join Pelé and Diego Maradona in the pantheon of the best players of all time?

France, the defending champion, and Kylian Mbappé, the player who has the best chance to take over from Messi and Ronaldo as soccer’s biggest name, are in his way.

If he hasn’t done it already.

Mbappé is also on the verge of making history as he heads into the title-deciding match at the 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium. The match is full of stories.

The 23-year-old France forward wants to be a champion at his first two World Cups like Pelé and set himself up for a chance at a third title, which has only ever been done by Pelé, who is in the hospital with a respiratory infection during this year’s tournament.


Mbappé was only 19 years old when he led France to its second World Cup title in 2018. He was the youngest player to score in a final since Pelé, who was only 17 at the time. Pelé was a big part of Brazil’s victory in 1962, but he didn’t play in the knockout rounds because he was hurt. Mbappé, on the other hand, has been France’s best player as they try to win again.

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In fact, Mbappé is tied for the most goals scored in the tournament with five goals going into the final. Messi, of course, is the player next to him.

One of the many stories about the final is who will win the Golden Boot, which is given to the player with the most goals.

France, the best national team of this generation, wants to win back-to-back World Cups for the first time since Brazil in 1962. The country that gave us Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, and now Kylian Mbappé will play in the final for the fourth time in the last seven World Cups, more than anyone else.

Didier Deschamps, who won the World Cup as a player in 1998 and is now trying to win it twice as a coach, is another example. The only other person to coach two world champion teams was Vittorio Pozzo, who did it with Italy in 1934 and 1938.

Like France, Argentina is looking for a third World Cup win to move into fourth place on the all-time list. They already have two, in 1978 and 1986. Since Maradona played so well in Mexico in 1986, it has been 36 years since soccer’s biggest prize has been won.


That made Maradona a hero in Argentina for life and a soccer icon all over the world. Messi now seems to be at that level, win or lose on Sunday when he plays in a record 26th World Cup game.

Messi has been compared to Maradona for the way he has led Argentina to the final. He has scored five goals and set up three more, which has thrilled his team’s many fans, who have only been outnumbered by Moroccans in Qatar during the World Cup.

In a way, it will feel like Argentina is playing at home, since France’s fans will be outnumbered by a sea of blue-and-white jerseys, many of which will say “MESSI 10.”

It’s hard to say who will win.

France is a tournament team that has been around for a long time and has the skills to win even when they aren’t playing their best. Deschamps has kept France’s level high, even though they lost key players like Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, and Karim Benzema, the current world player of the year, before the tournament.

The French are the best at being practical. They defend tightly and break quickly, usually through Mbappé on the left and Antoine Griezmann, who has been playing a new role as a playmaker in the middle of the field for the past month.

In fact, you can expect Mbappé and Messi to move around a lot during the game without defending or pressing. Instead of being lazy, it’s written in the script. Deschamps and Argentina’s coach, Lionel Scaloni, are both good at making a team that knows how to defend with fewer players.

For Argentina, the team is mostly set up to get the most out of Messi. Scaloni is likely to pick four central midfielders, just like he did in the semifinals when Argentina beat Croatia 3-0. They’ll fight and press, then pass the ball to Messi so he can do his magic. Or to Julián lvarez, the striker who started the tournament as a backup for that unbelievable 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in the first game but now can’t be dropped because he has scored four goals.


lvarez can’t believe that, at age 22 and in the early stages of his career, he is Messi’s attacking partner at the great player’s last World Cup.

In the same way, both the tens of thousands of people in the stadiums in Qatar and the millions of people watching on TV around the world have been amazed by Messi’s magic.

Anyone who isn’t French or a huge Ronaldo fan is likely to back Argentina’s small No. 10 in the most important game of his career.

In the 2014 final, Messi lost to Germany 1-0, but he still won the Golden Ball, which is given to the tournament’s best player.

This time, he’ll want to be lifting a trophy made of solid 18-karat gold instead, to cap off a career that has been like no other.


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