Most experts foresee Lionel Messi’s storybook finish in Argentina vs. France.
Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, and France will play against Lionel Messi, Julian Alvarez, Emiliano Martinez, and Argentina Vs. France is in a heavyweight matchup. On one side, France is trying to win again with only a few players from last year’s team. On the other side, the best player of this generation is playing his last World Cup game and trying to get the one piece of hardware he has been missing. No matter what happens on Sunday, one team will end up with a third star above its crest and will be two away from tying Brazil for the most men’s World Cup titles.
Here are our experts’ picks for the game. While you’re here, you can also sign up for our new newsletter about the beautiful game, which includes daily updates about the World Cup.
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You could cover these two teams with a blanket because they have many of the same quirks and traits, like not wanting to have the ball and a defense that makes that a good strategy. But neither has faced opponents with as many attackers who can change the game. This is a coin flip, and when that happens, it’s usually a good idea to bet on the team with Lionel Messi. History is calling. PICK: Argentina 2, France 1.
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Mr. Chuck Booth:
France has done enough to get the job done, but Argentina can make them pay for putting Theo Hernandez at left back to make their lineup more balanced. Argentina Vs. France has the best defense and can beat teams in different ways. Messi won’t lose the World Cup or the Golden Boot, but it will depend on how strong the rest of his team is. Just as Argentina is getting healthy, bringing Paulo Dybala off the bench will help the team score a late winner. PICK: Argentina 2, France 1.
There will be a lot of back and forth—an all-time classic. I destine Messi to do it, but facing Mbappe, arguably the best player in the world and who Messi knows well, won’t be easy. It will be helpful to understand how to hold him back, but he’ll still have an effect. Messi will do a little more, scoring the winning goal in extra time as France’s injuries finally catch up. PICK: Argentina 3, France 2.
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This tournament has been about Lionel Messi for Argentina, but the real stars are in their defense. Except for the last 10 minutes of the game against the Netherlands, this team has been very hard to beat. They haven’t had to deal with anything like Kylian Mbappe. Still, the game will be slow and tedious, with Argentina spending a lot of time trying to keep the ball and not attacking with it. Argentina beats France 1-0.
This was supposed to be Messi’s last chance to win the World Cup before retiring. But I was one of the few who thought the defending champions would be this good. The pragmatic side of Deschamps has come into its own, and the race between Messi and Mbappe to finish with the most goals is one to watch.
The French kept a clean sheet for the first time against Morocco. This shows that Deschamps has finally figured out how to defend as long as his key players stay healthy. Les Bleus will win, making them only the third team in World Cup history to do so. PICK: France 1, Argentina 0.
You couldn’t ask for a better final game than the one between (arguably) the best player of all time and (arguably) the best player right now. Messi doesn’t need this to be named one of the best players of all time. He has already ended the talk about him and Cristiano Ronaldo. They play together for Paris Saint-Germain.
The heart wants to pick Argentina Vs. France and this fairytale run, but the mind knows that this French team is deep and talented, even with all the injuries and illness. Didier Deschamps has done a great job of making up for the loss of Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Lucas Hernandez. No Dayot Upamecano or Adrien Rabiot in the semifinal? No problem.
Les Bleus have the dynastic run we thought Spain would have back in the 2010s. Mbappe is next in line to join soccer greats like Messi on Mount Rushmore. We will pass the torch to him if this has yet to happen. Mbappe and the rest of his team will be too much for this young Argentina team to handle. PICK: France 3, Argentina 1.
I picked Argentina to win the World Cup before it started, and I will not change my mind even though I think France is the better team. This will be Messi’s last chance to win a trophy, and he deserves the opportunity. This is the only trophy he has yet to win in his career. He has also likely been the player who has made the most difference in the competition so far. The whole team showed that they all wanted to make Messi’s dream come true along with their own.
The last time Argentina won was in 1986; this is the first World Cup since Diego Armando Maradona died. Winning the 2022 World Cup would be essential for the whole country. These things will give Argentina more motivation. That should be enough to deal with the fact that France is a stronger team and the favorite to win back-to-back titles. PICK: Argentina 2, France 1.