2022 World Cup final: Argentina vs France - Lionel Messi out to secure GOAT status against Kylian Mbappe and the defending champions

Lionel Messi bids to win the one trophy that has eluded him in the final World Cup match of his career as Argentina meet Kylian Mbappe and France in the World Cup final.

Published: 17 December 2022 - 4.14pm
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe

When and where to watch Argentina vs France?

Argentina vs France kicks off at 3pm on Sunday 18 December.

You can watch all the action from Lusail Stadium on BBC One and ITV1 via BT TV.

Argentina vs France match preview

Here we go! The biggest game in world football is upon us as Argentina and France meet at the Lusail Stadium to determine who will lift the most coveted prize of them all - the Jules Rimet trophy.

A World Cup unlike any other has reached it's climax as for the first time in the competition's 82-year history there will be a final played in December, seven days before Christmas Day.

It features two nations with two World Cup trophies each as Argentina and France go all out to win the greatest competition in football for a third time.

The story around Argentina is, as always, surrounding Lionel Messi. The Paris Saint-Germain forward appears to have solidified his status as the greatest of all time in the eyes of many this tournament but could put the debate beyond doubt should he lead Argentina to glory in Doha.

It's the one trophy that's eluded Messi in the most glittering of careers. The 35-year-old came closest in 2014 in Brazil when Argentina lost to an extra-time goal to Germany in the final. 

But in what Messi avowed would be his final World Cup the six-time Ballon d'Or winner now stands just one game away from bringing Argentina the trophy that they've missed out on ever since Diego Maradona won it in 1986.

It's been an emotional journey for La Albiceleste who've brought an outstanding support to Qatar. Defeat to Saudi Arabia in Argentina's opening game left the nation in a frenzy but Lionel Scaloni's side have grown into the tournament with each passing game and appear to be getting better and better, delivering a professional performance in the 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia.

They'll have to continue on that trajectory to overcome a France side who are bidding to become just the third team ever to retain the title. Coach Didier Deschamps has the chance to win the World Cup for a second time, a feat only achieved once before back in 1938 by Italy's Vittorio Pozzo.

What's more impressive, is Deschamps has done it all without injured France stars N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku.

The French survived a stern test against Morocco in the semi-finals to book their place in Sunday's final but comparing the attack of the Atlas Lions and Argentina is like chalk and cheese.

Deschamps' side will need to be at their very best to deny an in-form Messi, as well as two-goal semi-final hero Julian Alvarez, in front of what will feel like an away game for the French at the Lusail Stadium.

France have their own star man in Kylian Mbappe, arguably the player of the tournament, but Messi's PSG team-mate has not been at his best in the quarter and semi-finals.

Aside from Olivier Giroud's winner against England, goals have come from more unlikely sources in the previous two rounds with Aurelien Tchouameni, Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani netting to send France to the final.

Should Mbappe find his shooting boots on Sunday afternoon, it could spell trouble for Argentina and Messi's chance of an emotional parting at the very top. 

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe was not at his best in the World Cup semi-final win

Argentina vs France predicted line-ups

Argentina: Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez

France: Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud

Argentina vs France: Injuries and suspensions

Argentina full backs Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel are both available again after serving a suspension for the semi-final which gives coach Lionel Scaloni a decision to make on whether to start Acuna or continue with Nicolas Tagliafico at left back.

Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez is still struggling with an ankle problem but Angel Di Maria is set to return to starting line-up after recovering from a muscle problem.

For France, Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano could return to the XI after missing the semi-final victory over Morocco with illness. Kingsley Coman was also affected and is a doubt to feature.

Lucas Hernandez has been ruled out for the tournament since the opening group-stage victory over Australia but his brother Theo will continue at left back after his goal against Morocco.


Argentina celebrate after defeating Croatia
Argentina are one game away from a first World Cup win since 1986

World Cup Form

Argentina: LWWWDW

France: WWLWWW

Argentina vs France: Form guide

Argentina's World Cup campaign began in turmoil after suffering one of the shock all-time World Cup defeats against Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium. But they rallied and recovered with back-to-back wins over Mexico and Poland to top Group C and qualify for a last-16 clash with Australia.

Argentina eased into a two-goal lead against the Socceroos before leaking a late goal to set up a grandstand finish. Scaloni's men held on to face the Netherlands in the quarters in a pulsating match of drama and controversy.

Nahuel Molina and Messi's penalty put Argentina on their way but two late goals from Wout Weghorst thrust the Dutch back into the game and forced extra time. Argentina would eventually overcome Netherlands on penalties. 

The semi-final was far more straightforward as Messi and Julian Alvarez's double saw the South Americans ease past Croatia. 

France thrashed Australia 4-1 to begin the campaign and defeated Denmark 2-1 to seal qualification. A much-changed team then fell to a 1-0 loss to Tunisia in a dead rubber.

Deschamps' men brushed aside Poland in the round of 16, scored a late winner through Olivier Giroud to beat England in the quarters and edged past Morocco 2-0 in Wednesday's semi-final.

Didier Deschamps after the Morocco win
Didier Deschamps could become the second coach ever to win multiple World Cups

What are they saying?

France manager Didier Deschamps on stopping Lionel Messi:

“We will do everything humanly possible for that not to happen. At the end of the match, someone is getting a third star on their shirt. 

“Messi is really shining in this tournament. Four years ago, it was different. He played as a center forward against us, and it was not what I expected at the time. He’s more of a two-man team now, with real freedom, and he touches a lot of the ball.

"He’s very fit physically. We’ll try to limit his influence, just as the Argentinians will try to limit the influence of some of my players. But Argentina isn’t in the same position as it was four years ago.”

Argentina vs France: Players to watch

Two obvious ones here, but Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are the two men most likely to decide Sunday's World Cup final at the Lusail Stadium.

Messi is growing into the tournament with each match and provided a brilliant assist to tee up Julian Alvarez against Croatia while thumping home a penalty.

Mbappe began the campaign on fire with five goals and two assists but has not scored in either the quarter or semi-final wins on the way to the World Cup final.

Elsewhere Antoine Griezmann and Aurelien Tchouameni have been brilliant in the French midfield while young Manchester City winger Alvarez is playing without fear for the South Americans.