2022 FIFA World Cup final preview: Oddsmakers cannot separate Argentina and France in final

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Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, and Argentina's Julian Alvarez celebrate after scoring during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Argentina and Croatia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar concludes on Sunday with a matchup that has the world talking. There is no better way to close out this competition than with two of football’s biggest powerhouses — Argentina and France — going head-to-head for the right to hoist the World Cup trophy.

The storylines write themselves.

For Argentina, this is Lionel Messi’s international swan song. The player that many consider to be the greatest to ever play the game will likely hang up his Argentine boots after this competition comes to a close. The fact that this is his final World Cup has elevated the play of the Albicelestes throughout the tournament. Now, they’re 90 minutes away from helping Messi follow in his idol, Diego Maradona’s, footsteps by lifting the most prestigious piece of sporting silverware on the planet.

On the other hand, this game represents an opportunity for France. There have only been eight unique winners throughout the history of the World Cup. Les Bleus could join Brazil (1958 and 1962) and Italy (1934 and 1938) as the only teams to win back-to-back titles. France dealt with a plethora of injuries in the build-up to the 2022 World Cup. Nevertheless, Didier Deschamps’ men leaned on the star power of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann to lead them to glory once again.

Needless to say, those familiar with the beautiful game won’t be particularly surprised to see these two countries in the final. Oddsmakers aren’t either. Argentina (+500) and France (+650) had the second and third-best odds respectively to win the tournament before it kicked off. Now, just one win stands in each nation’s way of reaching its ultimate goal.

Caesars Sportsbook lists Argentina (+175) as the slight favorite to win in regular time.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:

Argentina vs. France

Time/TV: 9 a.m. CT, Sunday, FOX

Result after 90 minutes: Argentina +175 | Draw +195 | France +180

To hoist the trophy: Argentina -110, France -110

Over/under: 2.5 goals

Analysis: Argentina shocked the world for all of the wrong reasons at the beginning of this tournament. The Albicelestes’ loss to Saudi Arabia had bettors everywhere scratching their heads in confusion and disbelief at what they had just witnessed.

Argentina looked relatively uncomfortable as it entered the knockout stages against Australia and the Netherlands, despite two close calls. However, after the team’s 3-0 drubbing of Croatia, Lionel Scaloni looks to have his team firing on all cylinders at the most important time. Messi is finally getting the help he needs from his fellow attackers and that may be enough to overpower a France team with obvious flaws.

Les Bleus weren’t the runaway favorites heading into the tournament because of the injury issues in their camp. They’ve missed a number of these players — including N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and Paul Pogba — as the tournament’s gone on.

Deschamps’ side has looked vulnerable in certain areas of the pitch. They were overpowered in the midfield against Morocco with Adrien Rabiot out with an illness. The game against the Atlas Lions saw France capture its only clean sheet of the tournament to date, but its defense has been anything but stable.

The storyline is king in this sport. The football gods aren’t going to let Messi retire from the international game without winning the sport’s most prestigious piece of silverware. Time and time again throughout his career, ‘The Little Magician’ has delivered under the brightest lights.

It’s going to be incredibly difficult, even for the reigning World Cup Champions, to keep Messi and Co. from finding the back of the net. Argentina has a more complete and talented team with all of France’s injuries. Messi’s magic should be enough to see the Albicelestes lift the trophy for the first time since 1986.

Prediction: Argentina 2-1 France

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