What You Need to Know About Sunday’s World Cup Final

Photo by FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

For those of you who tuned out when Canada was eliminated at the FIFA World Cup, you should probably jump back on board one last time as the tournament concludes Sunday with a title match for the ages.

France will face Argentina (10am on TSN) in a battle of two classic soccer powerhouses, both hell bent on winning the sport’s biggest prize for a third time in their respective histories.

The man of the hour is Argentina megastar Lionel Messi. For everything he’s accomplished in the sport, a World Cup title has eluded him. He came agonizingly close in 2014, falling 1-0 to Germany in the final that year in Rio. Often hailed by many as the greatest player of all time, Messi is now 35 and some are billing this as his last stand, or Messi’s moment.

At the same time, he still looks like a player with plenty of fuel in the tank, based on some of the excellence we’ve witnessed so far in this World Cup – particularly in the semi final against Croatia.

Messi’s speed and creativity may not be where they were 8 years ago, but they still appear to be better than most everyone else’s. Who’s to say Messi won’t still be an impactful player at 39, when the tournament comes to Canada, America and Mexico in 2026?

While the World Cup is on the line Sunday, the match will also decide the winner of The Golden Boot, awarded to the top goal scorer in the tournament. Messi leads the tournament in scoring with 5 goals, tied with France’s superstar Kylian Mbappe. But Mbappe’s teammate, 36-year-old Olivier Giroud, and Messi’s fellow countryman, Julian Alvarez, are both right there as well with four goals apiece. If there’s a tie, assists and minutes played help break the logjam.

If Messi or Giroud win, they’ll become the oldest player to win the award. And when speaking of age, it certainly feels like a torch passing at this tournament, perhaps going from the veteran Messi to the 22 year old Alvarez, and from the veteran Giroud to Mbappe. That said, Mbappe has been state of the art for several years.

“Mbappe is one of the best players I’ve played with. It’s scary he’s so young,”

Giroud told the media last week. “He’s the best striker I’ve ever played with and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him. He’ll probably break my record (France’s career goal scoring record) and many others.”

While Messi hopes to finally win one at 35, success has come early for Mbappe. The Frenchman is one win away from winning back-to-back World Cups at the age of 23. Only Pele has done that. And very few players today are as entertaining and skilled as Mbappe.

Here’s how France and Argentina arrived at this point.

So who will win? Well, that’s for the soccer gods to decide. Both countries look unstoppable right now and it’ll probably come down to a happy bounce or extra time and penalties. But given how accurate EA Sports’ simulator has apparently been with their predicitions, we’re more than happy to turn Sunday’s World Cup forecasting over to them.

By Steve Warne

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