How France and Argentina lined up in epic 4-3 thriller at World Cup 2018 – with Mbappe and Messi set to do battle again

FRANCE take on Argentina in a star-studded World Cup final this Sunday.

The match will pit Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi against each other as they do battle for football’s greatest prize.

AFP or licensorsLionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe met at the 2018 World Cup[/caption]

Messi, 35, is aiming to perfectly crown his astounding career by finally getting his hands on the one trophy that has eluded him.

Mbappe, meanwhile, is aiming to win it AGAIN aged just 23.

On the way to his previous triumph, a teenage Mbappe inspired his side to a thrilling 4-3 victory over Messi’s Argentina in the round of 16.

The French forward scored twice in the astonishing match, laying down his claim as the heir to Messi’s football throne in front of the man himself.

Much has changed since that clash, with just 11 of the 22 players that started in contention to feature on Sunday.

France began with Hugo Lloris in goal that day, with the Tottenham ace still No1 this time around, possibly thanks to Mike Maignan’s pre-tournament injury.

He had a back four in front of him featuring Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Hernandez.

Pavard is in the squad but has been benched for Jules Kounde since the first game, while Hernandez was replaced by brother Theo after suffering a serious injury against Australia.


Varane is still a colossus at the heart of the defence, although Umtiti, 29, now plays for Lecce and hasn’t featured for Les Bleus since 2019.

France boasted an incredible midfield partnership of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba in 2018, and both would have been integral in Qatar had it not been for devastating pre-tournament injuries.

Mbappe played on the right-wing in 2018, rather than the spot on the left flank we have become accustomed to seeing him in these days.

That place in the team was taken back then by workmanlike Blaise Matuidi, with the popular 35-year-old having visited the current crop after their semi-final win this week.

Antoine Griezmann started then as he will on Sunday, having thrived in a new midfield role for Didier Deschamps.

Olivier Giroud will start upfront again, meanwhile, after Deschamps batted away suggestions that Karim Benzema could make a sensational return from injury to rejoin his team-mates in Qatar.

Corentin Tolisso, Nabil Fekir and Florian Thauvin came off the bench in 2018, none of whom are in the current squad – although unused subs Alphonse Areola, Steve Mandanda and Ousmane Dembele will be in contention.

Getty Images – GettyOlivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann will feature again on Sunday, as they did in 2018[/caption]

ReutersA very different Argentina side was left devastated four years ago[/caption]

Argentina, meanwhile, started goalkeeper Franco Armani last time out.

The veteran stopper is still in the squad, but has been replaced as No1 by Aston Villa ace Emi Martinez.

Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Tagliafico made up the back four for then-boss Jorge Sampaoli.

Otamendi and Tagliafico could start at the weekend, although Mercado, 35, and ex-Man United ace Rojo, 32, haven’t played for the national team since 2019.

Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez and Ever Banega made up an ageing midfield – with none of the trio in the current squad.

Messi, meanwhile, was flanked up front by Cristian Pavon, now 26, and Angel Di Maria.

Di Maria could overcome fitness issues to start this Sunday, although 11-cap Pavon has been in the international wilderness since late 2018.

Federico Fazio, Sergio Aguero and Maximiliano Meza came off the bench during the 4-3 thriller.

Aguero is in Qatar to support his pals, having had to retire last year.

Paulo Dybala was an unused substitute in 2018, but he could feature this time around.

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