It started with 32 countries, but now the 2022 FIFA World Cup is down to Argentina and France – who meet in Sunday's grand finale for soccer's ultimate prize.
How to watch and stream
- TV: FOX & Telemundo in United States; TSN in Canada
- Streaming: Foxsports.com, Peacock in United States; TSN GO in Canada
- Sunday, Dec. 18 | 10 am ET/7 am PT
- Lusail Stadium | Lusail, Qatar
A battle between two two-time World Cup champions, Argentina and France will each look to add a third star to their badge.
Les Bleus are defending champs, defeating Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 final in Russia en route to their second title, following their 1998 triumph on home soil. La Albiceleste also once took advantage of hosting the tournament, winning the 1978 World Cup, before hoisting the trophy eight years later behind Diego Maradona's legendary performance at Mexico 1986.
Argentina have also lost three finals: at Uruguay 1930 (against Uruguay), Italy 1990 (against West Germany) and Brazil 2014 (against Germany). France have also lost one final: at Germany 2006 (against Italy).
These countries have met on 12 previous occasions, including three times at the World Cup (Argentina hold a 6W-3L-3D head-to-head edge):
- 1930: 1-0 Argentina win in group stage
- 1978: 2-1 Argentina win in group stage
- 2018: 4-3 France win in Round of 16
After a disastrous 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia to begin the competition, Argentina found their footing to defeat both Mexico and Poland and reach the knockout stages as Group C winners.
From there, they dispatched Australia in the Round of 16 by a 2-1 scoreline, but needed a penalty shootout (4-3) to advance against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. Their 3-0 semifinal rout of Croatia was arguably their most convincing performance of the tournament, with Lionel Messi putting in an inspiring display against the 2018 runner-ups.
As expected, Messi has been La Albiceleste's talisman in Qatar. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, who's recently been linked to a move to Inter Miami CF, leads the tournament in several categories: goals (5), assists (3), shots (27), shots on target (14), expected goals (4.75) and fouls drawn (20). He's also won the most Man of the Match awards (4). At 35 years old, the Paris Saint-Germain superstar has confirmed that Sunday's final will be his last World Cup game.
But it hasn't just been the Messi show. Manchester City star Julián Álvarez has seen his stock rise significantly at the competition, especially after his memorable brace – which included a phenomenal run from his own half of the field – against Croatia, while goalkeeper Emiliano "Dibu" Martínez again proved decisive in a high-stakes PK shootout.
MLS-record signing Thiago Almada is in the squad, too. The Atlanta United midfielder earned a six-minute shift in the group stages and is the league's first active player to reach a World Cup final.
Four years after their heroics at Russia 2018, France are looking to repeat as World Cup champions for only the third time in history, following in the footsteps of Italy (1934, 1938) and Brazil (1958, 1962).
Even with a barrage of injuries affecting the squad (N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku, to name a few), Les Bleus won Group D with relative ease, defeating Australia and Denmark before unexpectedly falling to Tunisia.
That lone misstep appears to be a thing of the past, as Didier Deschamps' men eliminated Poland in the Round of 16 (3-1), ground out a 2-1 victory over England in the quarterfinals and ended Morocco's Cinderella run with a 2-0 semifinal win.
France's game revolves around PSG dynamo Kylian Mbappe, who is tied with Messi with five goals at the tournament; at just 23 years old, he has nine World Cup goals to his name. France are also powered offensively by Antoine Griezmann, as the Atlético Madrid forward leads the competition with 21 chances created.
France are considered slight favorites over Argentina, per BetMGM.
- Argentina win: +180
- Tie (extra time): +200
- France win: +170