By Ghulam Haider
Argentina and France will lock horns for the first time ever in a World Cup final, with the former aiming to banish any ghosts having met an inform Kylian Mbappe four years ago in Russia as France ran out eventual 4-3 winners in the knockout stages.
However, with pre-tournament favourites Brazil crashing out early to Croatia in the quarter-finals and England, Spain and Germany all failing to make even the semi-final stage, the onus has been on France and Argentina to go all the way after dismantling Morocco and Croatia in the semi-finals – and despite being the only two teams left, fans will hedge their bets on who they think will lift the trophy. But what are the odds looking like for the game? Football.london, in cooperation with Betfair, give you the lowdown ahead of the game.
What are the odds for the match?
France are the slight favourites to lift the World Cup with odds of 5/6 at Betfair with Argentina coming in at just 10/11 – a fair assessment considering the majority of France’s squad already have experience of winning a World Cup four years ago – with only Manuel Neuer, Sergio Busquets, Matthias Ginter, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller the current stars at this World Cup to have won the trophy.
Elsewhere, despite Mbappe’s men being billed as more likely to win the title for the third time in seven outings, Lionel Messi is still expected to finish ahead of his PSG teammate in the Golden Boot race. The duo both have five goals each, with Julian Alvarez and Olivier Giroud on four; however, they both rank in at 16/1 with the final set to be an extremely cagey affair.
In terms of odds purely for the 90 minutes, France rank in at 9/5 with Argentina at 17/10.
Betfair: 2022 World Cup winner
Betfair: Golden Boot winner
Lionel Messi: 4/5
Kylian Mbappe: 11/8
Olivier Giroud: 16/1
Julian Alvarez: 16/1
Betfair: France vs Argentina match odds
Betfair spokesperson Sam Rosbottom said: “France are the 5/6 favourites to successfully defend their World Cup crown against Argentina ahead of Sunday’s final. Lionel Messi will look to lift a first World Cup with his country and they are 10/11 to do just that. Meanwhile, Messi is the odds-on favourite to bag the Golden Boot at 4/5, with Kylian Mbappe, who has gone two games without a goal, 11/8.”
The French previously won the World Cup twice, in 1998 and 2018, but lost the 2006 final.
Meanwhile, Argentina bagged two World Cups in 1978 and 1986.
Lionel Messi-led Argentina last played in the 2014 final but returned home with a silver medal over a 1-0 loss to Germany.
Argentina were the World Cup runners-up in 1930, 1990 and 2014.
Here are five things to know about the match and a prediction of how it will finish;
This is Lionel Messi’s last World Cup match
The Argentina captain, arguably the greatest male player in history, has confirmed this will be his final match at a World Cup.
“There’s a lot of years until the next one and I don’t think I have it in me and finishing like this is best. (I feel) a lot of happiness to be able to achieve this. To finish my World Cup career playing my last game in a final,” he said after Argentina’s semifinal win against Croatia.
This is the fifth World Cup for Messi, 35, and Sunday’s final will be his 26th appearance in the competition – the most of any male player. Messi was a losing finalist in 2014 and throughout the tournament there has been a feeling the Argentina players are desperate for their captain to fulfill his dream this year.
Plenty of neutral soccer romantics feel the same way – they want Messi to finish his World Cup career with the trophy in his hands.
Kylian Mbappé is eyeing his second World Cup – and first golden boot
French forward Mbappé is only 23 and one match away from lifting his second World Cup. Reigning champion France is aiming to become the first nation to win consecutive World Cups since Brazil 60 years ago.
As Messi’s stunning playing career nears its end, Mbappé has the world at his feet, wherever his club future lies. As well as another World Cup win, Mbappé is eyeing the golden boot award for the tournament’s top goalscorer. He is tied on five goals with – you guessed it – Messi. The Argentine has the current edge thanks to his three assists, one more than Mbappé.
Argentina will need a plan to stop Mbappé and deny him the space to show off his explosive pace. England managed this well despite losing in the quarterfinal, but Mbappé had more freedom in France’s semifinal win against Morocco.
While Messi and Mbappé are undoubtedly the stars of their respective teams, the supporting casts have impressed too. Strikers Julián Álvarez (Argentina) and Olivier Giroud (France) each have four goals and their own shots at the golden boot.
Argentina’s young midfielders Enzo Fernández, 21, and Alexis Mac Allister, 23, have also enjoyed excellent tournaments. For France, Antoine Griezmann has been quietly and consistently excellent and Aurélien Tchouaméni, 22, has been so impressive in central midfield the team hasn’t missed the injured Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
Messi and Mbappé are the stars, but their teammates have helped them shine.
Neither defense is flawless
It feels like a long time ago, but it is less than a month that Argentina started its World Cup campaign with a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia.
Those who had backed the La Albiceleste to win the tournament suddenly looked foolish. The center-back pairing of the aggressive but sometimes erratic Cristian Romero and 34-year-old Nicolás Otamendi had looked shaky against an unfancied team. Argentina has looked more solid since that match but still conceded goals to Australia in the Round of 16 and two late on against Netherlands in the quarterfinal.
France’s defense is also not impenetrable. The semifinal win against Morocco was France’s first clean sheet of the tournament and Morocco was unlucky not to score, having created several good chances. England also had several opportunities to add to its single goal in the 2-1 defeat to France in the quarterfinal.
While neither team has a flawless defense, both have goalkeepers in good form. Hugo Lloris, France’s captain, has looked confident and displayed his usual athletic shot-stopping ability. Argentina’s Emiliano Martínez has also been solid and added to his growing reputation as a penalty expert.
History – and the crowd – is on Argentina’s side
The historical head-to-head record doesn’t feel especially relevant for a huge match like the World Cup final. That said, of the 12 times these two nations have played one another in men’s soccer, Argentina has won six, with three matches drawn. France, though, won the most recent encounter. That was at the 2018 World Cup, when France beat Argentina 4-3 in a thrilling Round of 16 match in which Mbappé scored twice. Argentina’s last victory against France was in 2009.
Overall in the World Cup, both nations have won the trophy twice. France won in 1998 and 2018 and Argentina in 1978 and 1986.
Perhaps more important than historical results is the support each team will receive in the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium for Sunday’s final. Argentina has been well-supported throughout the tournament and it is expected to feel like another match on home turf. Argentina’s embassy in Doha says between 35,000 and 40,000 Argentine fans are in Qatar for the World Cup – they will all be hoping for a seat at the final.
There’s not much between these teams and it may be decided on penalties, where Argentina will be the slight favorite. I think it will finish 1-1 after extra time, and Argentina, and Lionel Messi, will win the 2022 World Cup on penalties.