The Final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is set.
Regardless of the outcome, some history will be made.
If Argentina finds a way to win, then Lionel Messi will finally achieve his “impossible dream” of winning the World Cup, in a match that he has declared will be his final World Cup match.
If France finds their way to a victory, then Les Bleus will be the third nation in history to win back-to-back World Cup titles. Italy was the first, winning in both 1934 and 1938. Brazil became the second to win back-to-back World Cups, first in 1958 and then in 1962.
How do our writers see this match unfolding? Which version of history will be written?
Every fiber of my being wants to see Lionel Messi win a World Cup to wrap up what is possibly the greatest career we’ve ever seen in sports. While this is certainly the best Argentina have ever looked at the World Cup in the Messi era, there’s one problem. France is really freaking good. Despite missing several key contributors to their 2018 tournament-winning side due to injury, Les Bleus’ juggernaut keeps moving forward. With Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud a constant threat to score and Antoine Griezmann at the top of his game as a playmaker behind them, France’s talent will be too much. Messi winning a World Cup and putting an end to any debate about who is the greatest ever would be too clean and too simple. France prevails in one of the most exciting finals in recent memory and plays spoiler to the hopes and dreams of many hoping to see the culmination of greatness. France wins. – Rob Usry
I want to believe in the perfect storyline. In the fairytale ending. The idea of Messi winning a World Cup, finally, in his last World Cup match is a movie script waiting to happen. But every great story has conflict, and away from the pages of a script, sometimes in the real world the obstacles are simply too much to overcome. That is the case with this matchup. France is too clinical right now on the attack, and beyond what Mbappe does on the scoresheet, the gravity of his presence is a threat. Look back at France’s first goal against Morocco, a team that had yet to concede to an opposing player. But on France’s first goal there was Mbappe, in the box, with the ball at his feet and seven red jerseys around him. It was a moment from a U7 practice, not a World Cup semi-final. That gravity created space for Theo Hernández to deliver, and that gravity will be too much for Argentina on Sunday. France wins. – Mark Schofield
I’m going to take a departure from my coworkers here and say that I don’t want to see Lionel Messi win a World Cup. No, it’s not because I’m some frothing Messi hater, and more that winning it all would put an end to the greatest sports argument of the modern era: “Messi or Ronaldo?” I live for pointless bickering like this, and if Messi wins it all and Ronaldo never does, it will effectively kill the argument moving forward. Of course, it helps that honestly I really think France will hoist the trophy when it’s all said and done. Mbappe is heir apparent to the throne, Olivier Giroud is perennially underrated and deserves a cup himself — and as a Tottenham fan I’d love to see Hugo Lloris get one. Argentina’s most recent win over Croatia might be more convincing than any single game France has had in the cup (outside of obliterating Australia), but overall Les Bleus have had a harder road to get here and I think that experience carries then through. France wins. – James Dator
I’m going to break the mold here and say that I want Lionel Messi to win the World Cup and I think he’s going to. Yes, France’s star-studded squad probably beats Argentina in terms of head-to-head quality, but Argentina has Messi. Sometimes, that’s all you need. We all know that is the last trophy he has to lift to “cement” his GOAT status, and you can bet that he’s going to do everything in his power to will Argentina past France. Messi’s teammates know what it would mean to help arguably the best player of all time win the World Cup, and that will help spur them on even more. But you can’t ignore the threats that France carries all over the field with the most well-known of those threats being Messi’s club teammate Kylian Mbappe. Grab your popcorn. Argentina wins. – Kyle Soto
To be completely honest, I don’t think I really care who wins. If it’s Messi, it cements his legacy is the best way possible. If it’s Mbappe, it signals a passing of the torch that’s quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Given those stakes, I think I can speak with a free mind and say that Argentina is going to figure out how to pull this off. There’s no denying that France has the talent and they’ve proven they can win the big games — including that epic 4-3 win over Argentina in the 2018 Round of 16 — but Argentina have a very slight edge in terms of mentality. Despite this being a possibly career-defining moment for Messi, they are seen almost as underdogs. I think that’s going to let them play a bit more freely. Also, don’t forget that this team rode a 36-game unbeaten run into this tournament. All they’ve done since the loss to Saudi Arabia snapped that streak is go five more unbeaten. Messi completes his Golden Ball-worthy performance and leads Argentina to victory. – Jeremiah Oshan
Qatar will be happy that the Paris Saint-Germain stars are facing off, and that sports washing narrative should not be forgotten in all this. As for the game itself, France are obvious favorites for the way they’ve pulled through again despite not looking like a team trying particularly hard to live up to the hype. They simply have too much talent and Didier Deschamps knows how to set it up. Argentina however are a team that have really caught fire, playing to their very best in a 3-0 thrashing of Croatia after an emotional penalty shootout win against the Netherlands. Lionel Messi will have his say, but for once Argentina are not totally dependent on him. Even still, at 35 years old he remains a nuclear option, and a perfect compliment to a truly talented team who have a clear sense of purpose and identity. That makes the difference in the final, and Argentina win 2-1. – Colin Damms