We made it. 62 matches down, two to go. All that’s left in the world’s best tournament, the FIFA World Cup™, is the third place game between Croatia and Morocco on Saturday, and the grand finale of Argentina vs France on Sunday. To give you an idea of how big these games are, over 1.1 BILLION people tuned into the FIFA World Cup™ Final in 2018 between Croatia and France according to SportingNews. That’s an incredible number, and it’s no slight to Croatia to assume that with Lionel Messi and Argentina in the final, that number is going to be even bigger in 2022. Here is your guide why this World Cup final may be one of the biggest in the tournament’s history as both nations go for their ‘third star.’ You can watch the game on FOX with coverage starting at 9am ET and kickoff at 10am ET. To watch on your computer or mobile device, use the DISH Anywhere app.
2022 FIFA World Cup™ Final: Sunday – December 18, 2022
France vs Argentina – 10am ET on FOX
Where is the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ Final?
The 2022 FIFA World Cup™ Final will be played in Qatar Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar. Attendance is expected to be full capacity of 88,966, which was also the attendance during Argentina’s group stage match vs Mexico.
Messi vs Mbappe
It’s the best player to ever play the game vs the best player in the world right now. Whether you agree or disagree with that statement, the fact remains that Lionel Messi vs Kylian Mbappe is as much star power as you can get, short of Messi vs Ronaldo in the Final. Mbappe’s brief career with France has been very eventful. The 23-year-old won a World Cup™ trophy in 2018, considered retirement after missing a penalty that led to France’s early exit from the Euros in 2021, and is now back in the Final in 2022. He already has nine World Cup goals in his career, which is good for 15th all time.
On the other side, Lionel Messi is 35-years-old and has lost three finals with Argentina. La Pulga passed the legendary Diego Maradona to be the Albiceleste’s all time leading scorer, but don’t forget there was a time where Messi said he was retiring from international football. It was short-lived, as Messi returned and has won two finals in a row (Copa America and the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup).
Adding to the drama is the fact that Messi and Mbappe are teammates on the French team PSG. Both have been excellent in the tournament; Messi has totaled five goals and three assists to Mbappe’s five goals and two assists. So who will make the bigger difference on Sunday? France’s defense was under siege against Morocco, especially on the right side (the goalkeepers left). Messi hovers pretty centrally when playing with Argentina, but his bread-and-butter has always been operating on the right and cutting into his left foot. Defending him will be a team effort, as France will deploy multiple bodies on Messi, but Theo Hernandez will be tasked with most of the work. Messi’s ace in the hole isn’t his scoring ability, but his ability to create plays for his teammates. He can do a lot on his own, but he will need Julián Álvarez, Enzo Fernández, Rodrigo de Paul, and the Argentine frontline to continue to support him.
Mbappe, on the other hand, tortured Argentina in Les Bleus’ 4-3 win at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. His speed alone was a real problem for Argentina (as it is for most teams). England slowed him down with double teams, but they also have an elite right back in Kyle Walker. Morocco gave a valiant effort, but Mbappe still caused havoc. Nahuel Molina will draw the assignment in the Final, but as with Messi, it’ll require a team effort to slow Mbappe down. Both teams’ defenses have shown vulnerabilities this tournament: France didn’t have a clean sheet until their match against Morocco (which was a game that Morocco deserved to score in) and Argentina have shown mental lapses. Two of the last three FIFA World Cup™ Finals have been 1-0, but this one has all the makings to be a little more high powered.
Who are the X-Factors for Argentina and France?
The short answer is there are many, but since we have to pick one for each team, we’ll go with Julián Álvarez for Argentina and Antoine Griezmann for France.
Argentina fans who watched the 2014 final know all-too-well that an out-of-form striker can cost their team mightily. To put it simply (and somewhat obviously): You have to take advantage of the chances you get – just ask Morocco. However, not only is Julián Álvarez value-added offensively, his work rate on defense can’t be understated. Speaking of work rate, Griezmann has been the poster boy for this metric. The Atletico Madrid star has dropped into more of a hybrid midfielder for Didier Dechamps, and he’s been exceptional. He recovers balls, protects, distributes, and contributes to the attack. His heat map against Morocco was incredible. Aurélien Tchouaméni is the work horse in the middle, but for France to be successful, Griezmann will need to play a huge part in this game. Until lineups are announced, it’s impossible to know the severity of the illness running through the France camp right now, but other players may need to step-up for France.
Battle of the Goalkeepers
In one of the more interesting matchups, Emiliano Martinez and Hugo Lloris are both top goalkeepers. Martinez – a former Arsenal man who now starts for Aston Villa – has shown his reliability, especially in penalties. Lloris, the Tottenham Hotspur and France skipper, has had a strong tournament as well. Both will be called upon during the game, and if it comes down to penalties, it’ll be a thrill to watch.
What are the Odds to Win 2022 FIFA World Cup™ Final?
At the time of this writing (Dec. 16), the DraftKings odds are:
Argentina to win in regulation: +180 (-110 to win World Cup)
France to win in regulation: +180 (-110 to win World Cup).
As you can see, Vegas thinks this one is a coin flip. France is trying to become the first back-to-back champion since Brazil in 1962. Argentina is trying to tie a bow on Lionel Messi’s historic career and claim the country’s first World Cup title since Diego Maradona and company won it in 1986. Oddly, France has looked more vulnerable in the last two games than they did early in the tournament, while Argentina has seemed to improve as the tournament has gone on. Everyone should hope that the referee goes unnoticed in this one; it would be a shame for a controversial decision to hover over this Final, or for a player to take a red card. This is a tantalizing matchup that the whole world will be watching.
2022 FIFA World Cup™ Third Place Game: Saturday – December 17, 2022
Croatia vs Morocco – 10am ET on FOX
Having gone to the final in 2018 and losing in the semi’s this year, it will be interesting to see how motivated Croatia are in this tilt. You know Morocco will go for it. They became the first African nation to make it to the semifinals and will now try to have the highest finish for the continent. These third place games are often a little more wide-open and yield more goals. So if you want to enjoy the final remaining moments of the FIFA World Cup™, you’ll want to watch this one.