Its Messi Vs Mbappe As World Cup Final Gathers Sandstorm

Can Lionel Messi win a World Cup with Argentina or will Kylian Mbappe help France to win back-to-back tournaments?

Argentina play France in Sunday’s final (15:00 GMT) at the Lusail Stadium.

Messi, 35, has won a record seven Ballon d’Or awards – presented to the best player in the world – but never won the biggest team prize in football.

“People say France are favourites, but we have the advantage of having the greatest player of all time,” said Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

“We always like to hear the opponent is the favourite because we don’t feel superior or inferior to anyone.

“But, as I always say, we have the greatest player of all time. And with a good defence, we have many chances to reach our goal.”

France manager Didier Deschamps captained his country to World Cup victory in 1998 and then, as boss, guided them to another success in Russia four years ago.

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

The final sees the tournament’s top two goalscorers go head-to-head in the race to win the Golden Boot. Both Messi and Mbappe have scored five times in Qatar, while France’s Olivier Giroud and Argentina’s Julian Alvarez are one goal behind on four.

Messi helped Argentina reach the 2014 final in Brazil, although Germany’s Mario Gotze scored the only goal as the Europeans won 1-0 after extra time.

But the Paris St-Germain player has been the driving force in Argentina’s campaign in Qatar.

Argentina have won the tournament twice, on home soil in 1978 and in Mexico in 1986, and are looking for their third success on Sunday.

Mbappe, 23, is chasing his second World Cup success and has been instrumental in guiding France to the final. He scored once in their 4-1 win over Australia and twice in the 2-1 victory over Denmark as France reached the last 16 with a game to spare.

That enabled Deschamps to rest players and, despite losing 1-0 to Tunisia, they won Group D, with Mbappe on target twice more in the 3-1 last-16 triumph over Poland.

In the quarter-finals they faced Gareth Southgate’s England and took the lead through Aurelien Tchouameni, but Harry Kane equalised with a penalty. Olivier Giroud put France ahead and they won it 2-1 after Kane missed a second spot-kick.

France beat the tournament’s surprise packages Morocco 2-0 in the semi-final to reach their fourth World Cup final in seven tournaments, having won the competition in 1998 and 2018 and losing in the final in 2006.