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Argentina vs. France is a neutral fan’s dream

France is chasing back-to-back titles. Argentina is playing for Messi's legacy. Whatever happens, history will be made on Sunday.

We’ve won already, assuming you’re not an Argentinian or French fan. But if you don’t support either side, then congratulations. A final that was needed for the game is almost poetic—Argentina vs. France. 

Two of the best players in the world meet

There are almost too many storylines in this match. A legend looking for his last infinity stone. The defending World Champion looking to go back-to-back, adding gold to a dominant run. It’s so crazy that current Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema may even make his first appearance at the tournament. 

And we haven’t even gotten to the stars. They are two of the game’s best players, teammates at the club level: Lionel Messi vs. Kylian Mbappé. The best player of his generation looking to win the illustrious title that has eluded him his whole career, the only thing left to collect in what surely could be his last opportunity to do so. A 23-year-old already among the best, looking to add his second World Cup trophy, wanting to take the torch of fútbol for himself and only getting started in what is already a tremendous career.

It’s easy to get hyped for this game.  

France and Argentina had difficult paths to the final

This final matchup isn’t surprising to pundits, but the way the teams got here sure is. Argentina lost their opening match of the tournament to Saudi Arabia, something no one saw coming. But they’ve kept their composure, facing elimination since the second game of their campaign and winning the group stage with Messi’s magic strike against Mexico and a dominant win against the Polish. 

Into the knockout stages facing an upstart Australian team and outlasting them. A contentious battle against the Dutch while setting the record for most bookings in a World Cup match. A last-minute equalizer conceded to the Netherlands, and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s gloves saving the nation. And finally, a brilliant showing against Croatia. Now after a bitter night at the Maracanã eight years ago in which they lost a Cup final to Germany, they’ll be able to avenge that loss with their hero at the helm.

Problems for France started before the World Cup even began, especially with the injuries the team suffered en route to the tournament: Ballon d’Or winner Benzema, and most notably world champions Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Presnel Kimpembe. The French rallied, showing there’s no such thing as a winner’s curse in France as they won their group with ease. Then they faced a Poland side who were happy just to escape the group stage. 

Up next was England, whose entire team ended up coming home after the match. Friends then became foes in the semifinals as PSG teammates Mbappé and Archaf Hakimi met for a place in the final game. Morocco’s cinderella run ended, courtesy of Theo Hernandez and Kolo Muani. France went on to the final once again, giving Mbappé a chance to become a two-time World Cup winner at just 23 years old. Outrageous. 

History will be made no matter the outcome

Whatever happens at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday will be iconic. It’s either the end of a fabulous era of fútbol or the start of an exciting new period. Either way, we neutral fans are the winners. I couldn’t imagine the stress coming out of Buenos Aires or Paris on Sunday. Good luck to everyone. And, of course, we can’t end without a prediction. 

Champions consécutifs. Sorry Messians, but the French (-120) go back to back. 2-0 to France, and hello to the start of the new era.