World Cup final, Argentina v France: Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbabbe both need midfield support to win the title

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Ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final between France and Argentina, most of the attention was on the stars in attack. It makes sense, given that Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are running for the Golden Boot and they’re backed by Julian Alvarez, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Greizmann. But the support system behind them is also key. Argentina and France place a lot of trust in their midfield, even if each works in a different way.

Adrien Rabiot missed France’s win over Morocco due to illness and is still a doubt for the final. It’s been a blow as Rabiot, a swagger and swagger on an expiring club deal with Juventus, has shown his stuff ahead of the January transfer window with one goal and one assist so far in the World Cup . Rabiot plays the game on the edge just as likely to help France score a goal as he originally conceded one, but with Aurelien Tchouameni as his partner it worked for the Blues. Didier Deschamps asks a lot of his midfield duo and Greizmann popping up in front of them everywhere to break up the game makes it work. If Rabiot can’t go, Youssouf Fofana should be Tchouameni’s partner and it’s a hell of a failure.

France’s laissez-faire approach in midfield stands in direct contrast to Argentina’s coordination and that’s what makes this battle fascinating. Rodrigo De Paul brings work-rate and bite to the center of the park while Alexis Mac Allister and Enzo Fernandez are creative influences on the game without hurting the Argentina defence. With Mac Allister able to trade on the wings, La Albiceleste can switch fluidly between a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 depending on what the game calls for.

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All of their midfielders also threaten to shoot from distance, which helps keep defenses honest and allows Lionel Messi to conserve his energy to make attacking runs when needed. It’s a careful balancing act under Lionel Scaloni and one the French will need to disrupt to have any chance of winning a second consecutive World Cup title. If any team has the talent to win this battle, it’s France.

Greizmann is tied at the top of the World Cup with three assists, but his overall performances have made him not only a candidate for the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, but also the likely favorite if France win the trophy. . As comfortable leading the attack as he comes back to cover Theo Hernandez charging forward Greizmann is key but Tchouameni also does a bit of everything.

Given the stakes and the flexibility of both managers, it won’t be surprising to see something new in the finale, but that won’t distract from the battles in the center of the park. Earn this, and the odds are in your favor to lift the world’s most coveted trophy.

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Sunday December 17 | Time: 10 a.m. ET
  • Location: Lusail Ionic Stadium — Lusail, Qatar
  • TV: FOX | Direct: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: Argentina +165; Draw +200; France +185 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured game | Argentina vs France

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