Last chance saloon for Messi

Image copyright: Getty Images

2022 FIFA World Cup


Argentina v France

Lusail Iconic Stadium
Lusail, Qatar
Sunday, 18 December 2022
On Sunday, December 18, we will witness a World Cup final for the ages when Argentina look to dethrone defending champions France at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.
Lionel Messi has one final chance to get his hands on the only trophy to have eluded him in his illustrious career, with many Argentine fans still holding Diego Maradona in higher regard after he led La Albiceleste to glory at Mexico '86.
Messi has enjoyed an outstanding tournament in Qatar, scoring five goals and providing three assists to surpass a few World Cup records held by Maradona for the South American giants.
Julian Alvarez of Argentina
 Image copyright: Getty Images

The Paris Saint-German forward played a starring role in the semi-final showdown against Croatia, opening the scoring from the penalty spot on 34 minutes before assisting Julian Alvarez's second goal in a 3-0 win.
Messi admits the shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening match of the tournament helped to galvanise the squad as they went on to win their next five 'finals' to reach their goal.
"I would say the first match [the defeat against Saudi Arabia] was a hard blow because we had been unbeaten in 36 matches. To start in such a way in a World Cup, we did not think we would lose to Saudi Arabia," he confessed.
"It was an acid test of the whole squad but we proved how strong we are. We won the other matches and it was very difficult what we did. Every match was a final and we were aware if we did not win things would be complicated for us.
"We have won five finals and I hope this is the case for the final on Sunday. We lost in the first match due to fine details but it helped us to be stronger."
Les Bleus, meanwhile, are aiming to become to first European nation to win back-to-back titles since Italy achieved the feat in 1934 and 1938.
The two-time world champions were clinical against Morocco on Wednesday as goals in each half from Theo Hernandez (5') and Randal Kolo Muani (79') secured a 2-0 victory.
Kylian Mbappe is the joint-top scorer at the global showpiece alongside Messi with five goals, although he has gone the last two games without getting on the scoresheet and will be determined to win the Golden Boot outright.
Kylian Mbappe of France
 Image copyright: Getty Images

France head coach Didier Deschamps has set his sights on winning the trophy for the third time, having led his country to glory as a player on home soil in 1998 before guiding them to a second title at the helm in 2018.
"It's never easy but it's been such a joy. We're going to go after the title on Sunday," Deschamps declared.
"We're going to enjoy the time. I tell this to my staff and players. Take every moment in the day to really appreciate and savour the moment. In four days we are going to play for a world title.
"You don't lose, you just learn. You need to use those bad moments to achieve the target. The most important thing is to see the stars in people's eyes when you celebrate and win.
"Your whole country is behind you, your friends. I feel very proud, it's a dream come true. I want to win even more trophies."

Matches - 5
Argentina - 4
France - 1
Draws - 0

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Published: 12/15/2022