At Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are teammates, but only one will be content when he returns to the French capital.
Both players have scored five goals en route to the championship, but Messi’s impact has grown the farther Argentina has advanced in his last World Cup.
They will have a significant impact on who lifts the title as Messi and Mbappe battle it out with mesmerizing tight control, accuracy, and vision vs blistering pace and lethal finishing from Mbappe.
While all five of Mbappe’s goals have come from open play, primarily as a result of rapid transitions where France is most threatening, three of Messi’s goals have come from the penalty spot.
Messi delivered one of the highlights of the competition as he danced down the right flank, turning Josko Gvardiol inside out, before drawing back for Julian Alvarez to secure Argentina’s 3-0 triumph against Croatia in the semifinals.
Argentina will likely frequently target France’s left flank given that Messi was able to get the better of one of the tournament’s top defenders.
Mbappe has been allowed the opportunity to roam for France, but he seldom returns to assist out defensively, a problem Didier Deschamps addressed by substituting Marcus Thuram against Morocco as France guarded a 1-0 lead.
Theo Hernandez is a more energetic left-back than his injured brother Lucas, but it may also provide Argentina’s Nahuel Molina, who was Messi’s assist for the game’s first goal against the Netherlands in the quarterfinal, more room to advance.
For the match against Morocco, France left Adrien Rabiot at the team hotel, while Dayot Upamecano was replaced in defense by Ibrahim Konate after both players displayed “flu-like” symptoms in the lead-up.
Rabiot “should be available” for the championship game, according to Deschamps, who downplayed worries over Upamecano, who was well enough to sit on the bench.
However, when Konate, Raphael Varane, and Kingsley Coman all missed training on Friday due to sickness, there was undoubtedly rising concern about the disease spreading across the group.
Randal Kolo Muani, who scored France’s second goal against Morocco less than a minute after coming as a substitute, stated, “There is a small bit of virus going around but nothing major.”
Nine of France’s 13 goals have been scored by a combination of Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, but Antoine Griezmann has thrived in a playmaking role in the middle of the field, his declining strike rate being mitigated by creative production.
With 42 goals, Griezmann is third among France’s all-time top scorers with his most recent coming in an 8-0 thumping of Kazakhstan over a year ago.
Injuries forced Deschamps’ choices, and his choice to utilize Griezmann in a deeper position has paid off handsomely with the Atletico Madrid star now concentrating on providing the frontmen.
In order to prevent Luka Modric from effectively taking away the opposition’s primary weapon against Croatia, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni decided to pitch a compact four-man midfield.
It will be important to attentively monitor his strategy for neutralizing Griezmann’s danger.