Road to World Cup final: How did France, Argentina reach Qatar tournament’s last match?

Led by international star Lionel Messi, Argentina are easily one of the top-performing teams in the tournament, winning two World Cups so far, one in 1978 and the other in 1986.

The Albiceleste were also runners-up three times, in 1930, 1990, and 2014.

In breathtaking spirit to set the stage for 35-year-old Messi’s last dance, Argentina came to the 29-day event with an unbeaten record of three dozen games.

However, they were slow to take off, suffering a shock defeat in the early part of the tournament against Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi team’s success produced one of the biggest disappointments for Argentina in the tournament’s history, as the opening match ended 2-1.

The Argentinians picked up the slack, coming in strongly with two consecutive 2-0 wins over Mexico and Poland to top Group C.

They also claimed a 2-1 win over Group D runners-up Australia in the last 16 to take on the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

Lionel Scaloni’s men then toppled the Netherlands in a thrilling penalty shootout that ended 4-3 to advance to the next stage.

To book their spot on the final, Argentina claimed a win over Croatia 3-0, as Messi put his eleventh goal in the net to beat legend Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time World Cup top scorer.

France and World Cup

France are also one of the most intimidating sides in the World Cup, having won the tournament once in 1998 as its hosts and again in 2018’s, Russia.

The defending champions have always been favorites in tournament’s 92-year history.

Les Bleus advanced to the final for the fourth time in the last seven editions of the tournament, 1998, 2006, 2018, and 2022.

France began their World Cup adventure with a 4-1 victory over Australia and followed it up by defeating Denmark 2-1.

But in Group D’s last match, Tunisia shocked France with a narrow win.

Finishing the group at the top, France collected six points ahead of the Socceroos on goal difference.

France end Morocco’s surprise run

The French national team were paired with Poland in the last 16, against whom they claimed a 3-1 win.

In the quarterfinal, France defeated England 2-1 after a nail-biting match and to take their place against Morocco. France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, 35, became the player with the most appearances for Les Bleus, playing in 143 matches over former title-holder Lilian Thuram’s 142.

France ended Morocco’s surprise run, winning the semifinal 2-0 to face Argentina in the final.

With the win, manager Didier Deschamps became the fourth manager to guide a nation to back-to-back World Cup finals.

He joined the ranks of Vittorio Pozzo with Italy (1934 and 1938), Carlos Bilardo with Argentina (1986 and 1990), and Franz Beckenbauer with Germany (1986 and 1990).

Messi, Mbappe to face off for tournament’s top goal scorer title

France’s Kylian Mbappe and Argentina’s Lionel Messi entered the finals on the top scorer’s chart with five goals each as both superstars currently lead the race for the Golden Boot award.

Olivier Giroud of France and Julian Alvarez of Argentina are also tied with four goals apiece in the Golden Boot race heading into Sunday’s final.

Final to be played at Lusail Stadium

Located about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital Doha, Lusail Stadium in Al Daayen is set to host the World Cup’s final showdown.

Sporting gold panels for an elegant look, the Lusail is one the biggest stadiums in the Middle East with a seating capacity of 80,000.

Source: Anadolu Agency