France are aiming to become the first team to defend their World Cup crown since Brazil in 1962 when they face Argentina on Sunday. Didier Deschamps’ men have edged through their last two knockout games against England and Morocco to line up another meeting with Argentina.
Les Bleus won an entertaining game with the South Americans 4-3 in the round of 16 in Russia four and a half years ago. They are also the first team to reach back-to-back finals since Brazil in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
It’s a mouthwatering clash and one that could be a classic with goals galore, if their last meeting is anything to go by. It’s a match-up worthy of the World Cup final and one in which the layers are struggling to assess.
It’s a 50-50 game with the bookies refusing to put up a favourite, as number three in the world (Argentina) take on number four (France). France have ridden their luck in the quarter-final and semi-final to some degree, but they have proved they have the know-how in getting through big games.
In the round of 16 win over Poland, they threatened a performance worthy of their World Champion status, but could not follow that up against England or Morocco. They have had a number of injuries and illnesses to contend with and their mentality will be strong after passing each test to date.
Their obvious threats are on the counterattack with Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, and Olivier Giroud in good form. Griezmann has been a key cog for Deschamps, linking the team together, while Aurelien Tchouameni has been ever reliable in a deeper role. They surprisingly gave up more possession than expected against Morocco and they could do that again against Lionel Messi and Co.
France do have defensive weaknesses, though, and Morocco tried in vain to expose their left side with Mbappe reluctant to track back. Morocco caused France problems, but amazingly they kept the first clean sheet of the tournament.
Argentina arrive in the final having recovered well from losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their first group game. That had alarm bells ringing for Lionel Scaloni, but they regrouped and cruised into the final with a3-0 win over Croatia.
Messi remains their tormentor in chief and he could walk away from the world stage with World Cup and Golden Ball trophies. The 35-year-old has rolled back the years in recent weeks and he will be thankful for the extra day’s rest. He will no doubt be a big influence in the final and with Argentina’s attacking talents, there may well be goals.
Picking a winner looks like an impossible task and it may well pay to go with the draw. And with two superstars on show, geared up for scoring and assisting, a high-scoring draw at that.
There looks like some value in the over 2.5 goals market too. The bookies, more often than not, will fancy the under market in finals and four of the last five World Cup finals have gone that way. The exception was France’s 4-2 win over Croatia in 2018, proving a negative mindset is not what France and Deschamps will be planning.
Argentina, meanwhile, have scored at least twice in their last five matches in Qatar, and a glance at the Golden Boot runners and riders tells you that with Messi (five), Alvarez (four), Mbappe (five) and Giroud (four) you have a combined 18 goals.
With all that in mind, both teams to score at odds against also looks a play and backing goals is the tip.