WORLD CUP PREVIEW

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

WORLD CUP PREVIEW Sun: Argentina v France

After a World Cup full of twists and turns, incredible upsets, unbelievable goals and breathtaking excitement, it all comes down to this.

Argentina, led by the imperious and legendary Lionel Messi, come face-to-face with a Kylian Mbappe-inspired France on Sunday in the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Lusail Stadium in Doha.

Below, we have compiled a detailed preview that delves deep into both of these nations and analyses their chances ahead of their shot at greatness on Sunday.

Argentina v France
FIFA World Cup 2022 Final
15:00 BBC One / ITV1 / STV / BBC iPlayer / ITVX / STV Player / BBC Sport Website

LAST FIVE STATS

HEAD-TO-HEAD
JUN 1978 FIFA WORLD CUP Argentina 2-1 France
MAR 1986 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY France 2-0 Argentina
FEB 2007 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY France 0-1 Argentina
FEB 2009 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY France 0-2 Argentina
JUN 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP France 4-3 Argentina

ARGENTINA
NOV 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP Argentina 2-0 Mexico
NOV 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP Poland 0-2 Argentina
DEC 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP Argentina 2-1 Australia
DEC 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP Netherlands 2-2 Argentina
DEC 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP Argentina 3-0 Croatia

FRANCE
NOV 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP France 2-1 Denmark
NOV 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP Tunisia 1-0 France
DEC 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP France 3-1 Poland
DEC 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP England 1-2 France
DEC 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP France 2-0 Morocco


🇦🇷 Argentina 🇦🇷

Route to the final:

Group-stage: Won Group C (Lost to Saudi Arabia, won against Mexico and Poland)
Last-16: Won 2-1 against Australia
Quarter-final: Drew 2-2 with the Netherlands (won 4-3 on penalties)
Semi-final: Won 3-0 against Croatia

The case for:

It would be fair to say that Argentina had a disastrous start to this tournament, losing to Saudi Arabia 2-1 in one of the great World Cup upsets, but have since recovered and made their second final in their last three World Cups.

A huge part of that recovery, and a big reason as to why they are in this final, will not come as a surprise to anybody – it’s Lionel Messi. The Argentinian magician has enjoyed a wonderful World Cup, which incidentally has him as the 1/5 favourite with starsports.bet for the Golden Ball, with a string of wonderful performances; encapsulated perfectly by his stunning run and assist for Argentina’s second goal against Croatia.

When Messi is in this kind of form, even at 35 years of age, he can be a very difficult man to contain and if he can produce a vintage performance against France on Sunday, that massively boosts Argentina’s chances of lifting a third World Cup.

They are not a one-man team, though, as Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez – who has already looked impressive in the Premier League so far this season – has come into form at just the right time with fellow striker Latauro Martinez struggling to get going at this tournament.

Messi is also supported by a top-class midfield with the trio of Alexis MacAllister, Enzo Fernandez and Rodrigo De Paul performing well during the World Cup.

Argentina have not always been the most exciting or looked the most impressive in the knockout stages, but they have managed to find a way to win and that is arguably the most important quality a top-team can have.

The case against:

Even before the tournament began, many people were looking at Argentina’s defence as an area where they could be some weakness in the side. That was exposed for all to see against Saudi Arabia in their first game where, at times, they looked all at sea from an organisational point of view.

The frailty in their confidence and composure was also exposed in that game as well with Lionel Scaloni’s side going from a side comfortably in the lead to 2-1 down in the blink of an eye. The same thing happened against the Netherlands where they let a 2-0 lead slip out of nowhere to be taken to extra-time and penalties.

The Netherlands also revealed a weak area that France could choose to attack if they fall behind in the match and that was a clear vulnerability to direct football with former Burnley striker Wout Weghorst causing their defence a world of problems.


🇫🇷 France 🇫🇷

Route to the final:

Group-stages: Won Group D (beat Australia and Denmark, lost to Tunisia)
Last-16: Won 3-1 against Poland
Quarter-final: Won 2-1 against England
Semi-final: Won 2-0 against Morocco

The case for:

Their awesome attacking foursome of Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann can decide any game in a split second and means that defences have a dilemma to make with how much attention to give Mbappe.

Griezemann’s transformation into midfield general has been the crucial difference for France, with the Atletico Madrid man – a former forward who took the Golden Boot at Euro 2016 – creating chances in a key attacking role whilst also playing his part in tracking back and protecting deeper lying players.

The balance he provides, and the height of frontman Olivier Giroud also gives Didier Deschamps’ side the option of the direct approach that undid Argentina in 15 minutes. Aurelien Touchameni has been tireless in midfield, and Hugo Lloris’s shot stopping form has given them an extra edge defensively.

The case against:

France have mainly played with a 2-man midfield, and in the knockouts opponents have pushed through that area, with Morocco nearly doing so to great effect during the semi-final. France are also potentially vulnerable on the flanks; Bukayo Saka caused absolute chaos against Theo Hernandez and Jules Kounde in the quarter-final. Didier Deschamps is known as a conservative coach with a focus on defence but France have conceded in all but one game at this World Cup and were lucky to keep a clean sheet against Morocco.


Verdict

This World Cup will be remembered – on the pitch at least – as one of shocks but two of the leading contenders in the market meet in the final and we are in for a fascinating and historic context when Argentina and France go for glory. There’s little to separate the two sides as the starsports.bet match odds suggest, but France’s attacking quartet of Mbappe, Dembele, Giroud and Grizemann could be the difference between the pair, leading one to favour France over pre-tournament choices Argentina to lift the trophy.

With Mbappe demanding special attention, the spaces freed up for Dembele and Grizemann in particular could be the difference and whilst the magical powers of Lionel Messi are clear for all to see, it could be argued that he has a lesser supporting cast – for all Julian Alvarez has shone since coming into the side.

World Cup finals have traditionally been low scoring and cagey affairs – France’s 4-2 win over Croatia was the highest scoring final since 1958 – and whilst this may be less of a bore than others, it would be no surprise if extra time were needed. That was the case for the 2006, 2010, and 2014 finals – all between sides who were reasonably close in the betting – and punters should get a strong run for their money with the 2/1 on offer at starsports.bet for a 90 minute draw. With that in mind, the 10/1 on either side winning in extra time could also be a value bet.

🗣️ Traders’ view: “Very difficult game to call as reflected in the prices. A shootout between Messi and Mbappe for the Golden Boot. Hopefully it will be a classic, and if pushed, think France might spoil the Messi party as they just seem to get the job done without always impressing.

“We foresee a very tight low scoring game that could go beyond 90 mins and perhaps even finish in a penalty shoot out.”


Match Specials

The star of the French side – in goalscoring terms – has been Kylian Mbappe, whose five strikes has him joint top of the Golden Boot race with, you guessed it, Lionel Messi. Mbappe is of obvious interest in the player markets but if France are to retain their title, then it could be Antoine Griezmann who plays the key role.

His role from forward to midfielder has been one of the success stories of the tournament and he’s stepped up in the knockouts, assisting both goals against England before an all action role against Morocco where he created twice as many chances as any other player on the pitch and made three clearances, two tackles and two interceptions.

The need for defences to focus special attention on Mbappe has allowed Griezmann more space and if that’s the case on Sunday then he could once again be the beneficiary, with different targets to hit in the shape of Dembele and Giroud for a potential assist, which could represent value at 7/2.

The 16/5 about Lionel Messi to assist in 90 minutes also makes appeal at starsports.bet. Messi’s assisted three times at this tournament and has quickly struck up an excellent relationship with Julian Alvarez since Scaloni brought him into the side. Alvarez gives Messi a moving target to hit in the box, and if Argentina can pressure Theo Hernandez then cutbacks and low balls into the penalty area become another option.

Apart from their semi-final, Argentina matches have been feisty occasions during this tournament and there have been plenty of cards for the Albiceleste, who have picked up 12 cards to France’s five.

Admittedly that tally is tweaked by their quarter-final with the Netherlands – where a record 18 yellow cards were dished out – but that was not the first time Argentinean players have lost their cool in Qatar and the range of threats France have going forward could induce plenty of fouls. Argentina are 17/20 with starsports.bet giving up an -0.5 card handicap, which makes a lot of appeal.

WILLIAM KEDJANYI & JOE CITRONE


RECOMMENDED BETS – Match Odds (90 mins)
BACK Draw 3pts at 2/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

RECOMMENDED BETS – Other 
BACK France to Lift Trophy 5pts at 10/11 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK France to Win In Extra Time 1.5pts at 10/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

RECOMMENDED BETS – Specials 
BACK Antoine Griezmann To Assist A Goal 1pt at 7/2 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Lionel Messi To Assist A Goal 1pt at 16/5 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Argentina 2pts on Card Handicap 2-Way -0.5 3pts at 17/20 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


PROFIT/LOSS (WORLD CUP 2022): LOSS 48.28 points (after matches on Sat 10 Dec, includes TWO GOOD bonus on CAMEROON v SERBIA 28 Nov)
(Will include returns from both the OUTRIGHT and SPECIALS previews too)


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