The Final of the 2022 World Cup will pit two different yet very successful sides both seeking to make history for their own unique reasons. One one side you have Argentina who have overcome adversity but have then banded together in an effort to get talisman and legend Lionel Messi to the one major trophy that he has yet to have won, the World Cup. On the other side are France led by budding superstar Kylian Mbappe, who are looking to become the first side since Brazil in 1962 to successfully retain the World Cup title in consecutive tournaments. Catch today’s semi-final on Sling TV.
Argentina have previously won the global showcase in 1978 and then in 1986, and a third will bring them closer to continental rivals Brazil who have five titles, and Germany behind them with four. Superstar Messi will be calling time on his career in the not-so-distant future, and desperately wants to cap off a glittering career with the trophy that he craves the most of all. All the individual and team awards he has accumulated over the years pale in significance compared to this, and his teammates seem to be equally determined to help him get there, which is a big difference from prior campaigns where he has faltered carrying the weight of the nation’s expectations on his own.
The saying about France has often been that Les Bleues are so talented and deep, that a second team comprising a number of bench players was equally likely to make it to the semifinals. This tournament, with injuries and illnesses. that promise has been severely tested with a number of fringe players having stepped in and made differences in key areas.
Argentina easily disposed off a surprisingly error-prone Croatia 3-0 in one semi-final, while France scored early and then held off Morocco 2-0. Today’s game is the 13th time the two sides have played, with the South American side having won six, drawn thrice and lost another trio, including France beating Argentine in the last edition of the tournament in 2018 when the European nation won 4-3 in the Round of 16.
- Date: Sunday, December 18
- Kickoff Time: 7:00 am PT / 10:00 am ET / 3:00 pm GMT
- Location: Lusail Stadium
- Match Officials: Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL), Assistant Referee 1: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL), Assistant Referee 2: Tomasz Listkiewicz (POL)
How To Watch: TV and streaming info via Live Soccer TV
TV - Fox Network, Telemundo, ITV
Streaming - Sling TV
Argentina XI: Lionel Scaloni has continued to chop and change his Albiceleste squad on the way to the finals. Fullbacks Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna have both served their one-game suspensions, but it’s only the latter who likely will get chosen to start this one.
The coach will also likely return to a four-man backline which means Manchester United’s Lisandro Martinez should give way for the fit-again Angel Di Maria. Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez is likely fit again, so it will be interesting to see Scaloni decides for this one.
E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez
France XI: Aside from a number of injuries to key players even before the tournament kicked off, Dechamps has had a new issue pop up in recent weeks with a flu bug doing the rounds in their camp.
Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud
It feels like it’s just something inevitable, but Lionel Messi’s quest for the World Cup has become like a singular obsession for him and his fellow teammates. Kylian Mbappe is no lesser of a contender for the title as he attempts to become only the second youngest player to lift two World Cup trophies in succession.
Prediction: Argentina 1-2 France. France’s depth of quality in just about every position gets them the nod. While both Mbappe and Messi will attempt to influence the game, it’s the supporting cast who will be of most importance, and for me the French have a better one.
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