By Kieran Blake, Staff Writer
Will Lionel Messi ever win a World Cup? (Image Courtesy of Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
The World Cup Final will be held on Sunday, December 18 between the reigning champions France and the Lionel Messi-led Argentina. Here, I will break down each team’s greatest strength, best player, and make my prediction for who will win.
Best Player: Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is one of the five greatest soccer players of all time, and he is debatably top three, but this isn’t an article on Messi vs. Ronaldo. Messi is the leader of this Argentina team, and he is attempting a fairytale ending to his international soccer career: To walk away from Argentina with a World Cup victory, Argentina’s first since 1986. He recently passed Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s top World Cup goal scorer. His speed and ability with the ball between his feet is uncanny, and his offensive abilities are impeccable. At his best, he is almost unstoppable. Messi also recently confirmed that the World Cup Final against France will be his final game with Argentina, so one could only guess that he will give it his all.
Strength: All-Around Ability
Besides Messi, Argentina has other good players as well. ESPN’s top 50 list of players at the World Cup included not only Messi, but also forward Lautaro Martinez. NBC Sports had two other Argentinians on their top 25 list created midway through the World Cup, Rodrigo de Paul and Alexis Mac Allister. Against Croatia, the runner-ups from the last World Cup, Julián Álvarez scored two goals in a dominant 3-0 win. Enzo Fernández scored a goal for them against Mexico, Nahuel Molina against the Netherlands, and in the World Cup goal scoring standings, Messi is tied for first and Álvarez for third. This is a very talented and competitive Argentina team.
Best Player: Kylian Mbappé
Mbappé is one of the hottest players in soccer right now, and with his versatile speed and offensive ability, he is tied with Lionel Messi for first place in the 2022 World Cup goal scoring standings and was ranked best player in the World Cup on ESPN’s top 50. He was the most talented player on France’s 2018 championship squad, and he is their team leader this year. If France is looking to repeat, Kylian Mbappé is the player to help them do it.
Strength: Amount of Stars
France has possibly the most loaded roster at the 2022 World Cup. Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud (he’s tied with Álvarez for third on the goal scoring leaderboard), Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, Raphael Varane, Hugo Lloris; not to mention the fact that three of their best players, N’Golo Kanté, Karim Benzema, and Paul Pogba, are both injured. France definitely has a World Cup worthy team.
Lionel Messi will give it his all and will play harder than he has ever played in his life. The rest of Argentina will likely do the same. Messi is willing to give an arm and a leg and more to win what will be, assuming he doesn’t do what Tom Brady does, his last ever game with Argentina. However, France has an extremely talented team, and players like Mbappe, Giroud, and Griezmann will do everything in their power to win this game. I believe that Kylian Mbappe will score the first goal of the match for France in the first half, and Messi will tie it up for Argentina midway through the second. But late in the second half, Mbappe will score again, and despite everything that Lionel Messi and the rest of Argentina does, Argentina will not score to even it out again. The final whistle will blow, and it will be France, not Argentina, that walk away with the World Cup trophy in their hands. Final score: 2-1, France, Messi’s storybook ending simmers away.