This is it!!! The 2022 World Cup Finals, the biggest game of them all, the mother of all matches, the climax to a month-long feast of football fun and frenzy! Between two of the best sides in the world, with two of the best players on each side, and with two of the most fanatical fan-following in the universe.
It is time for Argentina and France to meet at centerstage. It is only apt for these two great teams to settle the question as to who deserves the FIFA World Cup. Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of all time, against his heir apparent, Kylian Mbappe; with both tied in leading the race for the Golden Boot with 5 goals apiece. Argentina, with 2 World Cup trophies at home, desperate to get 1 more – this time, as a gift for the iconic Messi, who at 35, is likely to be in his last World Cup appearance. On the other hand, there is France, also with 2 Cup trophies, eager to be the first returning champion since Brazil did it in 1962 with the legendary Pele. Only 23, Mbappe could also join the greatest-of-all-time debate if he wins his 2nd World Cup at such a young age.
But the match-ups do not end there. There is the battle for the Golden Glove, awarded to the best goalie, between Argentine Emi Martinez and the French captain, Hugo Lloris. Argentina’s Julian Alvarez and the French striker Olivier Giraud are both still in the running for the Golden Boot with 4 goals apiece. The Golden Ball will be awarded to the best player of the Finals. Aside from Messi and Mbappe, other players in the running for this would be Antoine Griezmann and the players mentioned above.
Argentina will be playing at full strength this time. Defenders Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel, suspended in the semifinal match with Croatia for having accumulated 2 yellow cards, will be around for this game of all games. Angel di Maria, still with a thigh problem, will be available as well.
For France, they are hoping to be at full complement as well. France has been battling with injuries and sickness, with Adrian Rabiot, Dayot Upamecano and Theo Hernandez recovering from assorted injuries, and 2 other players – Irahim Konate and Raphael Varane – isolating with the flu. Rabiot, Dayot and Konate in particular have proven vital on the French side. But no matter, there will be no shortage of worthy substitutes for the defending champions.
Today, both teams are resting. Preparing for the biggest game of their lives. Recovering from recent aches and pains, reviewing past games, scouting the opposition, dreaming of that perfect kick or that clever pass, knowing that millions of people will be watching them intently tomorrow.
Today, we took a break by watching Croatia beat the crowd-favorites, Morocco, 2-1 to take third place. To some, the 3rd place finish may not matter, but it is significant for these 2 countries – and more – in that it serves to inspire their own people of the fact that small countries such as theirs can make it to the big time. But only if they put their hearts and minds to it. This is expected to boost the game not only in both countries, it will spur the dreams of countless young kids the world over.
Football, and sports in general, is indeed a big equalizer. It is the energy that fuels kids to work hard. It is their golden opportunity to be a big success. It is the chance of a lifetime for many. It could be a rags-to-riches story for a handful. We do not have to look far. We look at this year’s Finals line-up and we see the likes of Mbappe, whose football exploits have meant financial freedom for his family.
The World Cup Finals is upon us! Come and watch, and let’s all be merry. Bring your beer, don’t forget the popcorn. Time to forget all the worries in the world for once. It is time. So just sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself. Let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeeee!!!
For a clearer view, just click on the pics. Cover photo courtesy of Football 365. Other photos, courtesy of Sporting Life, SB Nation, Goal.com, BeInSports, Sporing News, Barca, Yahoo! Sports, Fox Sports, Times Now, Xinhuanet.com and ClutchPoints.