Of the 32 teams coming to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, only two remain.
The game is full of history and legacy stakes. Both countries have historically won two World Cup titles. France is trying to become the first nation to win back-to-back titles since Brazil won in 1958 and 1962.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi is already the GOAT. The one thing missing from his trophy box is a World Cup title. This may be his last chance to win Argentina’s first World Cup title since 1986.
The final is being played in Lusail. Here are the best moments and highlights from the World Cup final.
Halftime: Argentina 2-0 France, Messi 45 minutes from fate
Well, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a World Cup final look this uneven, but so far so good for Messi and Co. Maintain a comfortable lead when they’re at rest. They attacked with decisiveness and defended so effortlessly, knocking Mbappe out so thoroughly that France coach Didier Deschamps made two substitutions before half-time in an attempt to salvage the game.
Olivier Giroud (anonymous in the front row) and Dembele (missed penalty) were substituted after Argentina’s superb second goal, but will it make a difference? Argentina had more than 60 percent possession in the first half, plus six zero shots. Their halftime xG (1.46) feels good considering how they played.
The team leading by multiple goals at halftime in the Men’s World Cup KO stage is 25-0-0 👀 pic.twitter.com/dk6eyjlyXD
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 18, 2022
Is there a way for France to get back into the game? Subs (Marcus Thuram, Randall Kolomouani) were brought in to give the Blues more control in midfield and more pace out wide, while also allowing Mba Pey plays a bigger role in the offense so he can hopefully get more possessions and more access to the space. It was a bold start for Deschamps, but he had no choice. There is no repeat of the World Cup final, you have to wait four years for a chance at redemption. —James Taylor
Perfect goal! Argentina 2-0 France!
Oh what is my goal 😱
2-0 Argentina 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/rBH0HSCyFJ
— Fox Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 18, 2022
35 minutes: Angel Di Maria made a surprise start for Argentina, who struggled in the knockout stages but doubled their advantage in the World Cup final. Messi, Julian Alvarez and Alexis McAllister fought brilliantly from one end of the pitch to the other, where Di Maria received the final pass, touching the ball and deftly Beyond the helpless Loris.
Les Bleus looked nothing like the defending champions in this match, but are always lucky in the crucial moments of the knockout stages. But Argentina and Messi didn’t look in the mood to give. —James Taylor
Another Messi record
With that penalty, the iconic no. 10 Became the first man to score in all four World Cup knockout rounds, having previously scored against Australia (last 16), Netherlands (quarter-finals), Croatia (semi-finals) and France in the final The team has scored goals. — Taylor
Messi scored from the penalty spot! Argentina 1-0 France!
Messi puts Argentina ahead 🎯🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/kZkUvRUXC9
— Fox Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 18, 2022
22 minutes: Shortly after France’s first attempt on goal, Argentina attacked quickly and won a penalty as Ousmane Dembele tripped Angel Di Maria after the winger entered the box from the left. The referee pointed without hesitation, and Messi stepped forward…the latter calmly sent Lloris with a low side-footed shot into the right corner!
Messi’s 12th goal in the World Cup final could be his most important if they take the lead! To be fair, they need more goals… — Taylor
hey we know them
Les Bleus’ own Paul Pogba – who missed France’s Qatar match with a thigh injury in October – joined Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimović in the stands to cheer his team-mate.
— GQ Sports (@GQSports) December 18, 2022
France’s first chance to score
20 minutes: Another press run for the Argentine ended in a setback when Messi’s low cross from the right was completely missed, and the ball was passed to Angel Di Maria on the left side of the penalty area, who fired it into the crowd. Moments later, Les Blues responded with a flurry of pressure and won a free-kick in a dangerous position to the left of the goal. Olivier Giroud headed home but got it past two defenders. — Taylor
Trouble in France?
11th minute: The French team continued to show nervousness in the opening encounter, and we ushered in the first big chance of the day. Some clever attacking from Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria culminated in a clear shot from Rodrygo De Paul, who fired a low shot wide of the corner. The Frenchman failed to make a clearance, but when the ball returned to the box, Lloris was hit hard by Argentine defender Cristian Romero – on replay, he was apparently pushed towards the French goalkeeper by Upamecano – because the ball was still in the middle. In the air and within yards of the goal.
Lloris is also receiving medical attention for his injuries. Cruelly, Romero and Lloris played for the same club (Tottenham Hotspur). After a few minutes on the ground, Lloris got back up and stayed in the game. — Taylor
Both teams displayed the raw energy and grit you’d expect in the biggest game in the world’s biggest sport. France’s Adrien Rabiot and Argentina’s DePaul fouled each other in the opening two minutes before French winger Ousmane Dembele missed an easy pass before his team-mate Dayot Upamecano elbowed Hitting Lionel Messi, the pair battled for a header. (It’s not something Messi should do if he’s 6 inches shorter than the French defender, but so be it).
France looked nervous and gave Argentina a couple of chances on goal, but Lloris had nothing he couldn’t handle between the posts. — Taylor
before the game
In a traditional pre-match anthem rendition, you have to judge Argentina’s superiority by the ferocity with which each word is sung by the players. France seems to adopt a more stoic tone, and even as the tune reaches its exhilarating climax, the vocals are clear but not overdone. A very pragmatic effort by the defending champions. — Taylor
Another Messi record
– Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) December 18, 2022
Even before kick-off in the final, Lionel Messi set the record for most appearances in the history of the FIFA Men’s Championship. Today is his 26th match in a World Cup final: will this be the one where he finally takes home the trophy? — Taylor
The entire France squad is fit and eligible after several horrific days when several players contracted the flu-like virus. As a result, coach Didier Deschamps named the starting XI that played England in the quarter-finals, with Dayotte Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot both back in the squad. It was also goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ 20th appearance in a World Cup final, setting a record for his position.
— Equipment France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) December 18, 2022
For Argentina, veteran winger Angel Di Maria returns to replace Leandro Paredes. Di Maria hasn’t featured much since the group stage; will coach Lionel Scaloni be praised and hated for the move? — Taylor
Argentina and France, two of just eight nations to have won the men’s World Cup, are both seeking their third title in Qatar. No matter who wins, Brazil’s status as the most successful five-win team in history will remain intact (though that’s cold consolation for Neymar and Co., who watched their opponents play the final today).
Argentina reached the final for the sixth time since they lost 4-2 to hosts Uruguay in the inaugural final in 1930. They won the title on home soil in 1978 and again in Mexico in 1986, inspired by Diego Maradona, but the Albiceleste will be desperate to avoid a hat-trick or a final in 1990 and 2014. Ultimate heartbreak.
Meanwhile, France will claim their third World Cup title in a quarter of a century. After winning the trophy as hosts in 1998, they returned again in 2006 but lost to Italy on penalties (after Zidane headbutted Materazzi). Their victory over Croatia in 2018 gave them the chance to become the first team to defend the title since Brazil in 1962. —Tony Marbert
head to head
Although they met at the first World Cup in 1930, this was only the fourth time the two sides have met in a tournament. Argentina won their first meeting against Uruguay 1-0 on their way to the final, before winning 2-1 in 1978 to claim their first title.
However, their most recent meeting at the last World Cup saw France win. Les Bleus beat their opponents 4-3 in the round of 16 in Russia. Kylian Mbappe netted the opening goal for Antoine Griezmann and then scored two penalties himself, but not before Angel Di Maria and Benjamin Pavard each scored one of the top goals of the tournament. The highlights are well worth seeing. We can only hope for a repeat of whatever happened at Lusail today. — Marbert