France's Victory Over Morocco Sets Up The Much-anticipated Messi-Mbappe Showdown
France's victory over Moroccosets up the much-anticipated Messi-Mbappe showdown. At Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar, France brought a disappointing end to Morocco's World Cup campaign, putting an end to the roller coaster ride that has been Morocco's run in this tournament.
In the process, France moved closer to achieving their own dream of winning the World Cup. France, the current tournament holders, ended the romantic notions of Morocco, this tournament's glorious surprise package, on a night of raw emotion and a cacophony of noise in Al Khor. France went even further than they already had in becoming the first African country to reach the semi-finals of the tournament.
Morocco's magnificent fans, who flooded into Doha in the thousands to splash the stadium in red, were left tearful but proud as France finally made their superior class and efficiency pay off, scoring at either end of a gripping match to win 2-0. France's victory left Morocco's fans tearful but proud.
Others came into tantalizing view for Sunday's final at Lusail Stadium as Morocco's players, staff, and their inspirational coach Walid Regragui took a prolonged and thoroughly merited ovation in front of those adoring fans with their dreams being dashed.
In particular, France will take on Argentina, and Kylian Mbappe will compete against Lionel Messi. On the most important stage in the sport, the teammates at Paris St. Germain will compete against one another as adversaries.
The Frenchman, who is only 23 years old, is going for his second World Cup winner's medal, while the Argentine genius, who is 12 years his senior, has one last shot at winning the crown that would bolster his claims to be the greatest player to have ever played the game.
Mbappe's status would be further cemented with successive victories, as France aim to become only the third country to win consecutive World Cups, the first for 60 years after Brazil did so in Sweden in 1958 and then in Chile four years later, following on from Italy in 1934 and 1938.
France aim to become only the third country to win consecutive World Cups. Brazil did so in Sweden in 1958 and then in Chile four years later.
He contributed a goal to France's 4-2 victory over Croatia in Moscow in 2018, and he possesses the ability to add to his tally both now and in the future. Pele, a legendary athlete from Brazil, is the only man to ever win three gold medals.
Only 21 men, including Pele, have ever won multiple titles, and that number is shrinking. It paves the way for remarkable new opportunities for France moving forward.
In the case of Messi, the circumstances are different.
He is nearing the end of a career in which he has won every honor that the sport has to offer, with the exception of one major omission from his list of accolades: the championship that is the most prestigious of them all, the World Cup. Since he was defeated by Germany in the final in 2014, this is his last chance.
This will be Messi's last game at the World Cup, and Sunday has the potential to be the day that caps it all off, providing the ideal conclusion to his time spent with Argentina. Anything else would leave the great national sporting icon of his country with a sense of hopelessness and emptiness.
The World Cup final could be one for the ages, and based on what we've seen so far in Qatar, it's too close to call. It could even come down to a single stroke of brilliance from the two players most likely to provide it.
France has won two tough knockout games, one against England in the quarter-finals and one against Morocco here.
They were tested in different ways - England with their attacking threat, and Morocco with their sheer refusal to buckle in adversity bolted on to plenty of skill - but they came out on top.
Despite Morocco's brief exertion of pressure, the French maintained their cool. Their first goal came after five minutes, from Theo Hernandez, and their second came 11 minutes later, from Randal Kolo Muani, who scored 44 seconds after coming on, the third-fastest goal by a substitute in World Cup history and his first for France.
And for coach Didier Deschamps, Sunday's final offers a place in history as well as the opportunity to add to his already illustrious career.
The 54-year-old was dubbed "The Water Carrier" by France teammate Eric Cantona for his tireless style and ability to win possession for less glamorous teammates. He led France to the World Cup on home soil in 1998.
After Vittorio Pozzo with Italy in 1934 and 1938, Carlos Bilardo with Argentina in 1986 and 1990, and Franz Beckenbauer with Germany in 1986 and 1990, Deschamps is only the fourth coach to lead a nation to back-to-back World Cup finals. He'd be only the second person, after Pozzo, to win it twice.
Despite losing Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema virtually the moment France landed in Qatar, he has gone about his business in his usual understated manner, with 36-year-old Olivier Giroud stepping into the breach.
Even at this late stage in the World Cup, he lost Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano to illness, with the latter superbly replaced by Liverpool's Ibrahima Konate to present Deschamps with a tasty selection problem on Sunday.
As a result, the World Cup has come down to this. Argentina takes on France. In the eyes of many, Messi v Mbappe.
It's the World Cup final that everyone expected and the personal showdown between two legends that everyone wanted.