2022 World Cup final: Argentina vs. France prediction, preview, team news

Mbappé and Messi will go for glory, the golden boot, golden ball, and PSG bragging rights

Kylian Mbappé of France and Lionel Messi of Argentina
Kylian Mbappé of France and Lionel Messi of Argentina
(Image credit: Fifa via Getty Images)

It all comes down to one last game in Qatar – the holders France against Argentina in the 2022 Fifa World Cup final at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar. With two of the world’s best players in opposition on Sunday, it promises to be an exciting clash for the neutrals, but a nerve-wracking one for fans of the respective finalists.

Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina team started their Qatar 2022 campaign with a shock 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia, but 2-0 victories over Mexico and Poland ensured that they qualified as group C winners. In the knockouts La Albiceleste beat Australia 2-1 in the round of 16, the Netherlands on penalties in the quarter-finals, and Croatia 3-0 in the semi-final.

Didier Deschamps’s France won their two opening group D games – 4-1 against Australia and 2-1 against Denmark – and although they lost 1-0 to Tunisia, Les Bleus qualified as group winners. France beat Poland 3-1 in the round of 16, England 2-1 in the quarter-finals, and Morocco 2-0 in the semi-finals.

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Both nations are aiming for their third World Cup win. France were triumphant at Russia 2018 and on home soil in 1998, while Argentina won at Mexico 1986 and on home soil in 1978.

The road to the 2022 Fifa World Cup final

(Image credit: Omar Zaghloul/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Messi vs. Mbappé: a ‘dream final’ for Qatar

Argentina’s Lionel Messi and France’s Kylian Mbappé have lit up Qatar 2022 and they will go head-to-head for a possible World Cup triple: winning the trophy, the golden boot for top goalscorer and the golden ball for the tournament’s best player. With five goals apiece, Messi leads the golden boot race having provided three assists compared to Mbappé’s two.

Rivals on the international stage, the duo are club team-mates at Paris Saint-Germain and form two-thirds of the “M-N-M” attack, along with Brazil’s Neymar. As well as the team trophy and individual awards at stake on Sunday, there’s also the bragging rights for when they return to the French capital. Messi vs. Mbappé is the “dream World Cup final” for Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said Jesús Mata in Spanish newspaper Marca. PSG have been owned by Qatar Sports Investments since 2011.

Kylian Mbappé starred as France won the World Cup in 2018

Kylian Mbappé starred as France won the World Cup in 2018
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The final represents different scenarios for the two No.10s. Mbappé, 23, is aiming for a second World Cup winners’ medal having starred for Les Bleus in Russia four years ago. Meanwhile, Argentina captain Messi, 35, has played in five World Cups for his country, but has never won the trophy. Having already broken Argentina’s all-time World Cup goals tally with his 11th, a penalty against Croatia, he is set to add another record this weekend. Barring a late injury, Messi will make history on Sunday by appearing for a men’s record 26th time in the World Cup – in what will be his last World Cup match.

This World Cup final “could be one for the ages”, said Phil McNulty on BBC Sport. And on the evidence of what we have seen in Qatar so far, “it is too close to call”. The result could even come down to “one moment of genius” from the two players “most likely to provide it”.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Croatia

Argentina captain Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Croatia
(Image credit: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

Messi? Deschamps only bothered by one objective

French boss Deschamps is aiming to become just the “second manager to win successive World Cups”, said the BBC. He was asked about the “will for Messi to win” his final World Cup game and whether if it had left him feeling “alone in the world”. The 54-year-old replied that he was “fine being alone” and that “doesn’t bother me”.

“I don’t have any particular worries or stress about the game,” he added. “When you prepare for a game like this you need to keep your focus, remain composed, but, of course, in a World Cup final especially you have the match and the whole context behind that. Of course, the objective is to come out with the title.

“I know Argentina and many people around the world, and maybe some French people as well, would hope that Lionel Messi could win the World Cup, but we’re going to do everything to achieve our objective.”

2022 Fifa World Cup match facts

  • Who: Argentina vs. France
  • When: Sunday 18 December 2022
  • Where: Lusail Stadium, Al Daayen, Qatar
  • Kick-off time: 3pm (all times GMT)

How to watch on TV in the UK

The BBC and ITV have split the coverage of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, but for the final they will both show Argentina vs. France on Sunday. ITV’s coverage is from 1.30pm to 6pm, while the BBC’s is from 1.50pm to 5.45pm. The final kicks off at 3pm.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni and France boss Didier Deschamps

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni and France boss Didier Deschamps
(Image credit: Gabriel Bouys/Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

Predictions and odds

“Do I have to? Really?”, said Joe Brennan on AS. “I will go for a draw after 120 minutes” and “endless penalties” until every player and substitute scores and the managers have to take one each. Then Scaloni “buries his” and Argentina win. “OK, maybe it doesn’t play out exactly like that, but it’s the only way my brain can compute how to separate these two football giants. I predict an Argentina... win? Wait, do I?”

Athos Salome, nicknamed the “Living Nostradamus”, correctly predicted that France will face Argentina in the World Cup final, “before a ball was kicked in Qatar”, said the Daily Star. And now the Brazilian has revealed who he reckons will win the tournament. Making his predictions based on a system called “Kabbalah” that “analyses mathematical probabilities”, unfortunately for France, Salome’s senses have told him that Argentina will emerge victorious in the finale.

This game has “just about everything” with “immense quality” all over the pitch and it could come down to “a moment of pure genius” from any of the world-class talents available to Deschamps and Scaloni, said Jack Rathborn in the Independent. For that reason “we’ll side with Messi”, a man “possessed” and surely determined to “not let this rare second chance pass him by”. He may have to wait until extra-time for his moment, but we’re “picking Messi to drag his side to victory once again”. Prediction: Argentina 2-1 France AET.

There’s “enough talent” in both sides for this game – which is “devoid of a clear favourite” – to be decided by “a moment of magic”, said Grey Whitebloom on 90min.com. But there has been “plenty of evidence” this winter to suggest “a mistake may prove even more likely and pivotal”. Argentina, Messi and their “deafening travelling support” may just edge out Mbappé and Co. Prediction: Argentina 2-1 France.

While Messi would appear to be “destined for the ultimate glory”, this French team “will take some beating”, said Jonathan Gorrie in the London Evening Standard. “Seemingly incapable of panicking” and boasting “obvious firepower”, they could “feasibly weather the Argentine storm” on their way to a third World Cup win. Prediction: France to win 2-1.

There’s not much between these teams and “I can see it going all the way to penalties”, where Argentina will be “the slight favourite”, said Robert Kidd on Forbes. “I think it will finish 1-1 after extra time”, and Argentina, and Lionel Messi, will win the 2022 World Cup on penalties.

As much as a Messi-led victory for Argentina will be “memorable”, a French victory will be “historic”, said Dan Roberts on Football Italia. It will be the “first time since 1962 that a nation has won the tournament twice in a row”. Obviously, it will “break Argentinian hearts”, but this is a France team that could be about to “go down in history”.

Right now, the latest odds are “about as close as they can be”, said Brian Good on Oddschecker. But, it looks as though France have the “early upper hand when it comes to the betting markets”. France are priced at 10/11 to lift the trophy, while Argentina are 19/20. Prices as of 15 December, according to Oddschecker.

France striker Karim Benzema training in Qatar ahead of the World Cup starting

France striker Karim Benzema training in Qatar ahead of the World Cup starting
(Image credit: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Team news

Messi looked to have been holding his left hamstring during the win over Croatia, but the Argentine skipper insisted there was no problem and that he felt “really good”, “strong” and “ready to play each game”. Considering the way Messi “tore” Croatia to shreds, “potentially on one leg”, there’s almost “no chance he would be kept out of the World Cup final”, said Kyle Bonn on The Sporting News.

Argentina will also hope that winger Angel Di Maria will be fully fit, while full-backs Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel are both available after suspension. Nahuel Molina should keep his place at right-back, but Acuna could replace Nicolas Tagliafico at left-back.

In the semi-final, France were without midfielder Adrien Rabiot and defender Dayot Upamecano, who sat out the win against Morocco due to illness. They are both expected to be ready.

There have also been suggestions that Karim Benzema could make a “sensational return” to the France squad for the final, said Jonathan Gorrie in the London Evening Standard. The Ballon d’Or winner was ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury, but with Deschamps not calling up a replacement it means that the Real Madrid striker is still registered on the 26-man squad. The 34-year-old has returned to training at Real and “could fly out” to Qatar in what would be a “dramatic boost” for Les Bleus.

Possible starting XIs

  • Argentina: Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna, De Paul, Paredes, Fernandez, Mac Allister, Messi (captain), Alvarez
  • France: Lloris (captain); Kounde, Varane, Konate, T. Hernandez, Rabiot, Tchouameni; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud

Lusail Stadium will host the 2022 Fifa World Cup final on 18 December

Lusail Stadium will host the 2022 Fifa World Cup final on 18 December
(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images)

The stadium

The 80,000-seater Lusail Stadium is the centrepiece of the Qatar World Cup and will host the final on Sunday. Located nine miles north of Doha, there have been six group games, one round of 16 match, one quarter-final and the semi-final between Argentina and Croatia previously held at the stadium during the tournament.



  • Head coach: Lionel Scaloni
  • Key player: Lionel Messi
  • One to watch: Julian Alvarez
  • Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Franco Armani (River Plate) and Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal)
  • Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Nicolas Tagliafico (Olympique Lyonnais), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla)
  • Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (Juventus), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Enzo Fernandez (Benfica), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion)
  • Forwards: Paulo Dybala (AS Roma), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Joaquin Correa (Inter Milan), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City)


  • Head coach: Didier Deschamps
  • Key player: Kylian Mbappe
  • One to watch: Aurelien Tchouameni
  • Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes)
  • Defenders: Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United), Axel Disasi (Monaco)
  • Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)
  • Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
  • Injured and out of the World Cup: Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich)

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.