It all comes down to this. After four weeks of thrilling upsets, statement strikes and more, the final two teams at the 2022 World Cup go head-to-head at Lusail Stadium in Qatar.
This time around, it is South American giant, Argentina, against reigning champion, France. Yesterday saw Croatia beat Morocco to claim third in the tournament.
Can Lionel Messi finally secure the one title missing from his trophy cabinet and evade lofty comparisons to the late Diego Maradona? Or will a 23-year-old Kylian Mbappe lead France to become the first team to win back-to-back titles in 60 years?
Watch the final on CTV and TSN 1, 4 and 5. Kickoff is at 10 a.m. EST. Keep checking back here as CTVNews.ca follows the match live.
Argentina makes a defensive substitution with game-changer Di Maria coming off for Marcos Acuna.
It’s been a cagey 10 minutes the last little bit as France knocks on the door but again nothing truly tests Argentina who remain rock solid.
Mbappe still does not have any influence in this game. He’s been in the Great of All Time (GOAT) conversations lately, but the 23-year-old is not stepping up for his country when it needs him the most. The Paris Saint-Germain star already looks clocked out.
55′ YELLOW CARD
France’s Rabiot is the second player to see yellow after a late challenge on De Paul who goes down in pain.
The Europeans have stepped things up significantly in the second half so far seeing more possession of the ball but it’s still a mountain to climb for Les Bleus.
The key to France’s 2018 World Cup victory was the midfield, but this time around it is without key names Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante due to injury. The midfield options available, as such, are not as experienced.
We’re back underway in Qatar and within seconds Argentina tries for a third but Lloris saves comfortably. It is worth noting France were hit with the flu a few days ago which could arguably be playing a role today.
Still, as the saying goes, 2-0 is the worst lead in soccer. Who knows what can happen in the second half.
HALFTIME. ARGENTINA LEADS 2-0.
What a thrilling first half that was, especially if you’re an Argentina fan. The South American side has dominated the pitch and played virtually inch-perfect soccer. The players are inspired and ready to see Messi lift the trophy.
France, meanwhile, needs a massive readjustment at the break. Griezmann has not found a way to get into the game and Mbappe is a ghost so far. However, this is the reigning champion we’re talking about so don’t count them out just yet.
45+7′ YELLOW CARD
Tournament breakout star Enzo Fernandez is shown a yellow.
Approaching halftime now and France has a solid spell of possession with the ball but struggles to move it forward. A strong team talk will be needed from head coach Didier Deschamps.
Seven minutes of added time on the clock.
France clearly feeling the pressure now as history is slipping away for the Europeans. Giroud is taken off and ends the tournament with four goals while Demebele (who conceded the penalty) also makes way.
Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram are the replacements.
36′ GOAL. ARGENTINA LEADS 2-0
Oh my we have another goal of the tournament contender here. Argentina picks up the ball in its own half and slick play (inspired by Messi in midfield) kick starts a blistering counter attack.
The ball finds Alexis Mac Allister and he feeds in a wide open Di Maria on the left side of the box who drills the ball home for 2-0. Is it game over already for France?
It’s almost as though every time France touches the ball, it magnetically gravitates towards an Argentina shirt.
France needs to get Mbappe and Griezmann in this game quickly. Argentina’s energy and passion is surging at the moment after the opener.
The goal means Messi now leads the race for the Golden Boot (six goals), one ahead of Mbappe (five) and two ahead of Giroud and Alvarez (four each).
23′ GOAL. ARGENTINA LEADS 1-0
Some vintage Di Maria movement on the wing as he drives into the box but is tripped up by Ousmane Dembele. The referee then points to the penalty spot.
Messi, of course, grabs the ball immediately and sends Lloris the wrong way to put Argentina ahead 1-0.
First real opportunity for France as the Europeans have a free kick just outside the box. Talisman Antoine Griezmann sends the ball into the box and it finds the head of a jumping Olivier Giroud but the striker sends his attempt over.
Another sloppy mistake from France’s defence sends Argentina on the break. Messi, De Paul and Angel Di Maria all play a role in the build up but the Juventus winger skies his attempt over the bar.
Notably, Di Maria only played a handful of games in Qatar but was a surprise starter for the final.
Some movement from France now as the reigning champion pushes forward. The ball finds Mbappe on the left side of the box but he and Adrien Rabiot can’t connect. Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez then collects the ball.
Heading into this clash a lot of talk surrounded how the teams would stop Messi and Mbappe, respectively.
So far, Argentina’s game plan has worked out as Mbappe struggles to even touch the ball.
Real scare for France here as Rodrigo de Paul’s shot is deflected towards goal but goes wide. It results in a corner and Lloris is in need of some treatment after a collision in the box. Argentina looks very, very, hungry today.
France has yet to settle down and find its groove. Defender Theo Hernandez gives the ball away and it eventually finds Alvarez again. Argentina’s forward tests goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from range but the French captain saves comfortably.
It’s already tense in this match but Argentina looks to threaten early on. Julian Alvarez attempts to connect with the ball but fails. He’s called offside regardless.
And here we go! Only one team can come out on top.
The teams have hit the pitch in Qatar in front of a lively crowd and a few fireworks, too. Argentina’s national anthem seems to have a bit more pride behind it compared to France.
All eyes on Messi and Mbappe, of course. Who can handle the pressure? Who might crack? Time to find out.
Former Spain international goalkeeper Iker Casillas also presented the trophy to the audience.
The world waits in anticipation now as Argentina and France have officially confirmed their starting lineups ahead of kickoff.
The South Americans are once again led by Messi (who breaks the record for most competition appearances), with Angel Di Maria as a surprise starter and Nicolas Tagliafico replacing Marcos Acuna who picked up a late injury.
The Europeans, meanwhile, seem to have fought off the flu in their training camp and see key names such as Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot return.
ARGENTINA STARTING XI:
Emiliano Martinez, Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Angel Di Maria, Rodrigo de Paul, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister, Lionel Messi, Julian Alvarez
FRANCE STARTING XI:
Hugo Lloris, Jules Kounde, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez, Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud
With Sunday’s game being the final match until the 2026 campaign in North America, here are some of the most memorable moments from the tournament in Qatar:
Canada returned to the world’s biggest soccer stage for the first time in 36 years. Despite losing all three games, it was a moment to remember for fans as Alphonso Davies scored the country’s first-ever goal at the FIFA men’s World Cup.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia pulled off the upset of the tournament after beating Argentina 2-1 in the group stage.
And in case you missed it, some of the most memorable goals of the tournament came through Richarlison’s acrobatic strike against Serbia and Wout Weghorst’s free-kick equaliser against Argentina in the quarterfinals.
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