meFrance is the new West Germany – stubborn under pressure, uninterested in claiming neutral hearts – time may have turned back to 1986. If so, that’s good news for Germany and Argentina. It’s been 36 years since South America beat West Germany in a thrilling final, and with the world’s most nerve-wracking final ever ending at Lusail Stadium, most romantic soccer fans hope Lionel Messi has finally pulled it off. He claims his place alongside Diego Maradona in Argentine folklore.
Fate awaits. Messi in 2022 was Maradona’s equal in Mexico’s 86, making the average team think they could win the biggest prize ever. It’s definitely his time. Unless, of course, France is defeated, a virus sweeps through their camp and they succeed in their latest heist. Didier Deschamps admitted: “I know that the Argentines, many people around the world, and maybe even the French hope that Messi will win the World Cup. “But we will do everything we can to achieve our goal. »
Deschamps’ message was right that France was as prepared as any team with the flu. France captain Hugo Lloris added: “We know what Lionel Messi means in the history of football. But we will try to find the key to success.”
As Lloris pointed out, this is a clash between two great nations. In the short moments when attention deviates from Messi and Kylian Mbappe, the French striker’s express train, attention is riveted on both sides which has given both incidents hope of adding a third star to their badge.
Both show how pragmatism has become the dominant force in international football. Four years ago, Deschamps, whose understated style drew criticism, led France to glory with his powerful football. At the moment he is winning the argument. Even a loss at the last hurdle would be a victory given that Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni barely sent his team to play fantasy football. Lloris’s judgment of Argentina was a “well-organized team”. “They are strong defensively and have very high pressure on whoever has the ball. They are very good in the second half.”
In this regard, it was interesting to hear Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klinsmann present their findings from the tournament during a FIFA technical briefing. Communication in the central areas was the “dominant way of playing and defending”. He forced teams to engage in wide areas, resulting in 45 cross goals (down from 24 in 2018) and underscoring the renewed importance of the traditional No. 9. Coming home to win France’s quarter-final victory against England. Think Messi wriggling away against Croatia, swatting away Jusco Guardiol and chipping the ball wide to score Julian Alvarez.
He was an example of the beauty of having attackers who can get past defenders. “You had a lot of teams that had a lot of ball but there were no results,” Wenger said, no doubt thinking of Spain. It was also pointed out that with the defensive lines a little higher, there were a lot of balls over the top. In this way, France threatens to beat Mbappe and Osman Dembele on the wings.
But France does not control the pulse. They had 43% possession against England and 37% in the semi-final against Morocco. “In the second half we fell a lot, but that was also due to the good performance of the Moroccans,” Lloris said. Good but not enough France Nagaon. They split periods of dominance and maintain their form when they are in the lead. But sometimes it’s more like making wires. Morocco struck the list after its backwardness. England were within a penalty kick from Harry Kane to make it 2-2.
But it works for the world champions. Aside from Mbappe, Giroud has shown selflessness in the absence of the injured Karim Benzema. Griezmann, who excels in his new role as the elusive No. 10, is a worthy contender for tournament MVP. Dembélé is pinned on the right. In midfield, Aurelien Choameni and Adrien Rabiot can play important roles in closing down Messi’s space. Raphael Varane, accompanied by Ibrahima Konate or Dayot Upamecano, breathes serenity at the heart of defence.
It is a strange team, summed up by the prospect of Lloris becoming the first captain to win two World Cups. Only France can survive the loss of Benzema, Lucas Hernandez, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kempebe and Christopher Nkunku to injury and go this far. However, the disease paralyzes their preparations, they will ask themselves to win Argentina.
Not that it will be obvious. Argentina, who were overtaken by France in the Round of 16 in Russia, represent a game-changing proposition under Scaloni. They stunned the Netherlands with five defenses in the quarter-finals, have solid strikers like Paulo Dybala, Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez in reserve and have treated every game like a final since losing to Saudi Arabia.
Argentine fervor is on the rise. They will get the most support within Lusail. If the midfield is to be compact and lively, four Rodrygo de Paul, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis McAllister and Leandro Paredes will look to get ahead of France. Christian Romero and Nicolas Otamendi are warriors behind the scenes.
Like Giroud, Alvarez stepped out of the shadows to dazzle in the lead. There is more than just goals to the Manchester City forward, despite his four-goal haul. Alvarez’s movement and willingness to run behind defenses also eased the physical burden on Messi, who benefited from running less by scoring five goals and assisting three. Everything was done to make Messi happy. It will be a concern for Deschamps if the young genius finds ways to unmask Theo Hernandez, the French attacking left-back.
“Argentina are a strong team and they have a young generation,” Lloris said. “They are all for Leo Messi. But there was no question waving the white flag of France. They have Mbappe, who has five goals and has a chance of winning twice in 23. They have an unwavering team spirit and have been bolstered by Kingsley Coman, Theo Hernandez, Varane, Konate and Tchoameni who are back.” To rehearsals last night.
“It will be a great occasion,” Lloris added. He was doing a big sale for her. Argentina hopes that history is about to be written. France refuses to be drawn into feelings. They think they can deny Messi his romantic end.