Argentina vs France Prediction
18th December 2022
18:00 Qatar Time/15:00 GMT
Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
Click to Scroll to Prediction
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Played:3 Argentina Wins:2 France Wins:1
Argentina vs France Prediction Match Overview
After defeating Mexico and Poland after their blip against the Saudis, Argentina finished top of Group C. They then beat Australia 2-1 in the round of 16 and defeated the Netherlands on penalties in a bad-tempered affair. The semi-final against Croatia could hardly have gone better for them. The Croatians started well, but Lionel Messi converted a penalty in the 34th minute after Julian Alvarez was fouled. From there, it was all Argentina. The South Americans scored a quick second after a counter-attack from a Croatian set piece. Messi led the charge and played in Alvarez, who earned his luck with a few bobbles in the box to score. Nahuel Molina’s run was beneficial here. In the second half, Messi produced a moment of genius as he turned Josko Gvardiol inside out (the Croatian is fifteen years his junior). He then slipped into the box to set up Alvarez for the third Argentina goal. After a superb performance, Argentina will be confident entering the Final.
France topped Group D and then proceeded to beat Poland 3-1. They were somewhat fortunate to beat England 2-1 in the quarter-final as England had chances. The semi-final, against World Cup surprise package Morocco, proved to be a step too far for the Africans. Theo Hernandez scored early in the fifth minute after outstretching his left boot. Morocco’s response was commendable, as they threw everything at France and had chances to equalise. However, Randal Kolo Muani tapped home the second goal after only seconds on the pitch to make things safe. France will also feel confident.
Argentina and France now meet in the showpiece World Cup Final in Lusail on Sunday at 6 pm local time. The French have been struggling with a virus in their camp in recent days, but most of their squad should recover in time to play. These two teams met in the 2018 tournament, where France won 4-3. France were the better side that day, but this is a more resolute Argentina team defensively. In Messi’s last World Cup, his teammates are fighting tooth and nail for him. We anticipate a tight final, which could be decided by a moment of magic.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play: Di Maria (Argentina);
Will not play: Benzema, L Hernandez (France)
Argentina vs France Prediction Analysis
The Midfield Contest
We expect Argentina to line up in the same 4-4-2/4-3-1-2 hybrid they did against Croatia, where it paid dividends. However, Leandro Paredes could be dropped, and they could switch to 4-3-3 if Angel Di Maria is fit to start the match. Like Croatia, France have an accomplished midfield unit and will likely play their tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 formation. Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot stay deep to protect the defence. At the same time, Antoine Griezmann has been exemplary in connecting the midfield to the attack and tying the entire team together. Indeed, Griezmann has also been very unselfish defensively in getting back to defend, protecting his defence and cutting out crosses in the box. He has been one of the best players of the tournament and has perhaps gone under the radar due to the flashier escapades of Kylian Mbappe. Argentina will have to pack the midfield to deal with this midfield trio. Rodrigo De Paul, Alexis Mac Allister, Enzo Fernandez, and Julian Alvarez have put in many hard yards. This work has allowed Lionel Messi to conserve energy to create and open up defences. In the World Cup Final, De Paul must again work hard and play in his usual pressing and tenacious style to try to upset the French rhythm. Mac Allister must also try to press Tchouameni and Rabiot.
The most interesting midfield battle is that between Fernandez and Griezmann. The Frenchman is much older and more experienced than the Argentinean. Fernandez will have to be alert at all moments not to allow Griezmann to find those little pockets of space he loves so much. In these, he can do damage by feeding the wide players and Olivier Giroud up front. All the Argentine midfielders must cover the spaces between the lines. However, in what is likely to be a battle, Fernandez’s performance against Griezmann could go a long way to deciding which team has the upper hand and more control of the game. Tchouameni and Rabiot must not be allowed to receive the ball from the defenders and Lloris. If they do, it is in these moments that Griezmann will try to find space in the pockets to receive the ball from them on the half-turn. Both teams will also have to protect their defences, as the attackers on both sides are of very high quality. We expect Argentina vs France to ebb and flow and neither team to particularly dominate possession.
Possession vs Counter-Attacking Threat: Getting the Right Balance
Interestingly, neither of these teams prefer to dominate possession against strong sides. Argentina claimed 48% possession against the Netherlands and 39% possession against Croatia in their semi-final clash. Similarly, France’s share of possession in their quarter-final and semi-final matches against England and Morocco was 43% and 39%, respectively. While both sides will use a high press with specific individuals, especially Griezmann for France and De Paul for Argentina, it has been evident that both have allowed the opposition to have the ball in non-threatening areas of the pitch. They prefer instead to retain their shape and wait for the opposition to make mistakes.
This is something which generally rings true for the latter stages of tournament football, where the stakes are higher and games are often decided by moments of quality from leading players. Attempting to dominate possession and compressing the play in your opponent’s half may pay dividends over a lengthy league campaign. However, even the best sides play with considerably more caution against better opponents in an elimination format, with perhaps a few historical exceptions. Argentina and France have plenty of attacking talent to call upon, not just from Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi but also from a strong supporting cast. Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, and Ousmane Dembele for France, and Julian Alvarez and Alexis Mac Allister for Argentina are all ably supported by wing-backs from both sides, particularly Theo Hernandez for France and Nahuel Molina for Argentina. In a game of this magnitude, both sides will be mindful of the importance of defensive details. Therefore, we anticipate a battle of attrition with possession evenly shared.
The width will also be critical in the World Cup Final. Argentina have plenty of choices out wide. If Angel Di Maria doesn’t play, they will play a narrower formation with Messi and Alvarez as forwards but splitting to link up out wide with Molina and Marcos Acuna. We expect the latter to come back as left-back after his suspension against Croatia. This situation could create space in the centre-forward position for Mac Allister to try to exploit. Molina and Acuna have been all-action in this tournament. They have flown up and down the pitch and been diligent in their work rate and defending. They have also produced quality in attacking areas. Indeed, Molina, for us, has gone under the radar, too – he has generally played with energy and purpose. Certainly, his forays into the box allowed him to score against the Netherlands. His run in the semi-final also confused the Croatian defence, which allowed Alvarez to score.
Messi and Alvarez will look to link up with these two, get wide and get up against the French full-backs. There may be a weakness on the left side of the French defence. We rate Theo Hernandez, but his defending in this tournament has been less than convincing, perhaps because he receives little protection from the wide-left player, Mbappe. Messi and Molina raiding on this side could be a potential avenue of success for Argentina. While they will go down the left, too, Argentina will likely target Hernandez on this side through Messi and Molina. Tchouameni and Rabiot must be disciplined and come across to help Hernandez. However, we expect Messi to make little dribbles into the box and attempt to find Molina’s darts into the area.
In the other half, everyone knows the threat Mbappe poses. Alongside Messi, he is the big game changer in attack in this game. However, he is a very different type of player from his clubmate. He is less technical and cerebral and relies on his pace and unpredictability. He is technically gifted, but few players in history have the all-around combination of passing, dribbling, and playmaking that Messi possesses. Mbappe will rely on his speed and trickery to try to get into the areas where Molina vacates. Hence, Molina’s up-and-down style will be more critical than ever in Argentina vs France. De Paul will have to come across to help Molina on that French left side, as Messi, at his advanced age, is uninterested in tracking back.
There is so much focus on that side of the pitch where Messi and Mbappe operate. The two teams may try to spring a surprise and often attack on the other side instead, or even have players switch wings. Indeed, Alvarez, Acuna, Kounde, and Dembele are also high-quality players. With so much attention on the Argentine right, there will likely be more space on the Argentine left. The coaches Lionel Scaloni and Didier Deschamps will have planned for this possibility and will leave nothing to chance. Their tactics will centre on getting their wide men and full-backs into the game. They will create down the sides to produce cut-backs, such as Messi’s for Alvarez against Croatia. France also have a massive threat in the air through Giroud. One thing is sure – the defences must be on their toes against such brilliant attackers. The centre-backs and full-backs of both teams will need protection from their midfielders when the wingers look to come inside.
Containing Messi and Mbappe
As previously stated, high-profile football matches tend to be decided by magic moments. Therefore the importance of containing Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe is magnified. Limiting Messi’s influence requires a coordinated team effort and often the efforts of more than one opposition player. Hence, France’s midfield double-pivot of Tchouameni and Rabiot must not be caught out of position simultaneously. Hernandez and Kounde must also cut inside to help from the wing-back positions when required. Unless Messi is looking to run at defenders directly, central defenders shouldn’t rush out to engage him as he is so difficult to dispossess. If they do this, they risk leaving vacated space at the back.
The prospect of defending Mbappe is a little different, as the Frenchman prefers to play a more direct attacking role than Messi, who operates as a playmaker-forward. Mbappe will constantly be looking to make himself available to receive the ball in space and in a position to run directly at the heart of the Argentinean defence. Therefore it’s vital that Argentina retain their shape. Paredes and Fernandez must maintain discipline and cover for each other when one elects to support their attacking unit. They also must provide cover for Argentina’s wing-backs when they flood forward.
Both sides have several options available from the bench should they be required to make tactical adjustments. France may call upon the fresh legs and defensive acumen of Eduardo Camavinga should they need another defensive-minded player to restrict the available space in which the Argentineans can operate. Giroud is crucial to how the French play, serving as the perfect foil for Mbappe. Griezmann is integral to allowing the French to win the ball high up the pitch as the situation allows. Any substitutions involving the front four will likely hinge on Ousmane Dembele’s performance. France could use Kingsley Coman or Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani to replace Dembele.
Scaloni demonstrated in Argentina’s 3-0 semi-final victory over Croatia that he is willing to consider moving to a central defensive three should the need arise. He did this with his substitution of Lisandro Martinez in place of Paredes. If the French have enough success playing between the lines, adding a third central defender would allow the spare central defender to help shut them down. The likelihood of Argentina’s attacking substitutions depends largely upon the state of the game in the second half. If Argentina are chasing the game or looking for a breakthrough, we can expect to see Angel Di Maria or Lautaro Martinez. Paolo Dybala or Papu Gomez could come in for Julian Alvarez if they are comfortably ahead. As this is expected to be Lionel Messi’s World Cup swansong, it’s highly doubtful that he will be an outgoing substitution, except in exceptional circumstances.
Argentina Key Players
Since replacing Lautaro Martinez in the starting lineup against Poland, Alvarez has not looked back and has built an increasingly impressive on-field relationship with Messi. All the talk has been about Messi’s performances. However, the other Argentina players have performed well too, and none better than Alvarez. With four goals, he is still in with a slim shout of the Golden Boot, and his two goals against Croatia will have filled him with confidence. Against the French, he must work Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate hard, pressing them, running the channels and giving them no moment of peace. When Argentina win the ball, Alvarez is technically proficient enough to link with Messi and the full-backs and try to work their way into the France box. Alvarez has also proved he is an excellent finisher. Hence, any chances which come his way after being created by Messi or others must be converted as chances might be at a premium.
Messi has turned back the clock in this tournament. It isn’t his first excellent World Cup, as he won the Golden Ball in 2014. However, the genius has been playing like a man possessed here. Indeed, he knows it is his last chance at winning the World Cup, and his passing, dribbling, and shooting have been a joy to watch. Against France, he will likely have to evade the attention of Tchouameni, as the young Frenchman will try to fill in the holes between the lines where Messi loves to occupy and operate. Messi will also try to link up with Molina wide-right. Molina has been in fine form in this tournament, and he and Messi have formed a good relationship whereby Messi knows precisely where he is at all times. Messi’s aforementioned relationship with Alvarez is also a fantastic advantage for Argentina. Messi will pick his moments when to burst into life as the others do the hard work for him. He will try to create magic moments to win the match or make it safe for Argentina, as he did against Gvardiol in the semi-final. If he does, he will win the World Cup and the Golden Ball.
France Key Players
Without Griezmann’s instrumental role in linking the French midfield and attack and his industriousness in performing his defensive duties, the French would have a far less coherent team and may not have reached this World Cup Final. His displays have been so integral to France’s campaign that he feels like an automatic choice as a key player. In addition to diligently performing his role to the highest level, which has marked him as a crucial team player, Griezmann has an eye for the unexpected. One such moment resulted in a decisive second French goal against England in their quarter-final clash. Tchouameni and Rabiot are likely to have their hands full in dealing with the Argentinean attacking threat. Thus, Griezmann will be relied upon to ensure that France’s attacking unit, particularly Mbappe and Giroud, doesn’t become isolated.
France’s most profitable avenue of attack is likely areas of vacated space. The Argentinean full-backs like to get forward as often as possible, which could open up plenty of room for France’s talismanic striker to operate. Argentina’s performances have improved since the debacle of their shock 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia. However, it’s instructive that they have sometimes suffered at the hands of the direct play of their opponents. Indeed, during their quarter-final match, the Argentineans appeared flustered by the Netherlands switching to a route one approach. We don’t expect Mbappe’s influence to be similar in style to the aerial bombardment employed by the Netherlands in the latter stages of that match. However, there is evidence that some urgency in attack can unsettle the Argentina back line. Mbappe has the technical ability and searing pace to do just that.
Beat the Bookmaker Argentina vs France Prediction
Whatever transpires in the 2022 World Cup Final, there is a guaranteed fantastic narrative. In one outcome, Messi will finally win the World Cup, which his talent almost demands (many see him as the greatest footballer of all time). Alternatively, France will become only the third nation to win two consecutive tournament editions (after Italy in 1934 and 1938 and Brazil in 1958 and 1962). We expect an extremely tight match between two talented and well-matched teams, which could go either way. Most people argue that France are the stronger team on paper. However, Argentina have arguably performed better than France since the South Americans’ abysmal first game. Indeed, in Argentina vs France, the performances of Messi and Mbappe will be critical, but Griezmann could also be integral. As stated, he has been superb at linking play and cleaning up defensively, and he may give France the platform to perform. However, the stars are aligning for Argentina, and we feel they will not let this opportunity slip. Throughout the tournament, they have played with determination, work rate, and quality. France have looked vulnerable at times. Argentina and Messi, in particular, can exploit the French weaknesses in our view. The trophy is within Argentina’s grasp now, and they might win a very close final in extra time. We believe Messi will finally be crowned a World Champion and join the late, great Diego Maradona in Argentinean football folklore.
Argentina 2-1 France AET; Both Teams to Score (90 Minutes)
Beat the Bookmaker Argentina vs France Prediction – Both Teams to Score (90 Minutes) Odds:
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