Argentina vs France
Argentina to lift the trophy- 10/11!
It all comes down to this.
206 teams took part in qualifying, with 865 matches played, and then, over the last four weeks, 63 games have taken place, with 30 nations sent home, leaving just two.
Both France and Argentina already proudly display two stars upon their crest, with a third up for grabs in the biggest game on the sporting calendar.
Les Bleus are aiming to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil 60 years ago.
Didier Deschamps’ team were run close by England in their quarter-final, before proving simply too strong for Morocco on Wednesday.
Theo Hernandez’s early volley and then Randal Kolo Muani’s clincher, coming just 44 seconds after his introduction, seeing off the North African nation.
France have now won nine consecutive semi-finals, victorious 13 of 16 knockout games under Deschamps.
As for Argentina, it’s all been building towards this moment.
Last summer, they beat the South American champions Brazil to lift the Copa América, their first silverware for 28 years.
11 months later, la Albiceleste demolished European champions Italy in the Finalissima at Wembley.
Now, the world champions stand between them and a first World Cup triumph since Diego Maradona’s day of destiny in 1986.
This time round, it feels written in the stars that Lionel Messi will finally get his hands on the trophy he craves.
On Tuesday, he broke the deadlock against Croatia, before providing two majestic assists for Julián Álvarez.
Messi has scored in all three knockout rounds, so will he provide a deceive contribution one more time?
Of the ten previous World Cup Finals between CONMEBOL and UEFA nations, seven have been won by the South American team.
The three exceptions have either featured a France victory, or an Argentina defeat.
Will Argentina be world champions again, or can France retain their title in this mouthwatering, heavyweight clash at Lusail Iconic Stadium?
Argentina team news
Lionel Scaloni is expected to largely stick with the more solid XI he deployed against Croatia.
This features Leandro Paredes coming into midfield, alongside Rodrigo De Paul and Enzo Fernández.
The most attacking of the midfield quartet, Alexis Mac Allister, will become Brighton’s first representative in a World Cup Final.
Full-back is the only area Scaloni has a decision to make, after both Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuña sat out the semi suspended.
Nahuel Molina is likely to remain at right-back, but Acuña could return in place of Nicolás Tagliafico on the other side.
Emi Martínez will win his 26th cap in goal, keeping 17 clean sheets and conceding just ten times so far.
At the other end of the field, Julián Álvarez’s four goals at this tournament have emphatically seen him usurp Lautaro Martínez in the pecking-order.
12 names have been mentioned so far, but it is really all about one man isn’t it?
This’ll be Lionel Messi’s seventh appearance in an international final, but he’s yet to score in one.
He will break Lothar Matthäus’ record for most World Cup appearances (26), desperate to lead his country to glory.
Predicted XI (4-4-1-1): Martínez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuña; De Paul, Paredes, Fernández, Mac Allister; Messi, Álvarez.
France team news
France’s XI has been largely unchanged all throughout this tournament, but Didier Deschamps may have some big decisions to make.
At centre-back, Dayot Upamecano missed the Croatia game through illness with his deputy, Ibrahima Konaté, outstanding in that win.
While one position may be up for grabs, Raphaël Varane is guaranteed to start at the heart of defence.
The 29 year old has won 17 of 19 finals, for club or country, he’s ever featured in; the two defeats came in Super Cups.
In midfield, Adrien Rabiot, if fit, will displace Youssouf Fofana, rekindling his partnership with Aurélien Tchouaméni.
Further forward, the quatre fantastique will continue to be facilitated by Antoine Griezmann, who will feature in a record-extending 74th successive international.
Griezmann last missed a France game in June 2017, not sitting out a single every competitive fixture since his debut, which came during Brazil 2014.
Kylian Mbappé has been rather quiet against England and Morocco; has he been saving his best for the final?
If Mbappé, or indeed Griezmann, net here, they’ll become just the fifth men to score in multiple World Cup Finals.
Those two, as well as Hugo Lloris, Varane and Olivier Giroud all started 1,617 days ago in Moscow.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Koundé, Varane, Konaté, T Hernandez; Tchouaméni, Rabiot, Dembélé, Griezmann, Mbappé; Giroud.