Journalism of Courage

World Cup Final: Its Magnum Opus Or Nunc Dimitis For Messi

But standing in his way and Argentina is the defending champion, Les Bleu of France who is also gunning for a third FIFA trophy and the French team is eminently qualified to defend its title based on its current form and eclectic mix of football artistes.

By Emmanuel Okara

For Lionel Messi, the upcoming showdown against Les Bleu in the finals of the Qatar World Cup will either make or mar his reputation as the GOAT and the jury is still out about his status as a GREAT player.

The FIFA World Cup trophy is the missing piece of Silverware in his trophy-laden career and he seems hellbent this time around to add it to his trophy cabinet come rain, come shine – if he succeeds it will be the first for him and a third for Argentina.

But standing in his way and Argentina is the defending champion, Les Bleu of France who is also gunning for a third FIFA trophy and the French team is eminently qualified to defend its title based on its current form and eclectic mix of football artistes.

Having won the FIFA trophy twice in their illustrious football history it will be a do-or-die affair as both countries will go for broke to achieve their objectives of winning the World Cup.

Right from its inception in 1930, only eight countries have won the FIFA World Cup – they are Uruguay in 1930 & 1950 – Italy in 1934,1938,1982 & 2006 – Germany in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014 – Brazil in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 & 2002 – Argentina in 1978 & 1986 – France 1998 & 2018 and Spain 2010.

Ever since then either a previous winner increases their tally or a new winner emerges from the crowd to join the elite club of World Cup winners – with Croatia and Morocco, knocking out Brazil and Portugal to qualify for the semifinals many felt it might be the dawn of a new era but alas, it turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

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Since Croatia and Morocco could not go beyond the semifinals the prospects of the emergence of a new World Champion have been completely dimmed and the die is now cast for a big showdown between Argentina and France.

The last time both countries met in the Round of 16 was in the 2018 Russia World Cup, Les Bleu gained the upper hand 4-3 in a coruscating match – France went on to win the World Cup for a second time.

This is where Coach Lionel Scaloni and Didier Deschamps will have to come up with the perfect strategy and tactics to carry the day or one of them will have to wait for another four years to realise his ambitions.

Head-to-head the Albiceleste and Les Bleu seem evenly matched in a battle where no quarters will be given – the physical play of Adrien Rabiot and Aurelien Tchouameni will have to add some grit and steel to their plany as they try shield Raphael Varanne, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate and Theo Hernandez to stop Messi, Julian Alvarez and Angel De Maria from making hay.

On the side of Albiceleste, Molina, Christian Romero, Nicola Ottamendi and Rodrigo De Paul, Enzo Fernandez and Alexis Macallister will have to be nimble and alert to the forays of Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele from the wings alongside Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezman.

Even though Deschamps has said that they would have to devise a strategy to cage Messi, I feel a stroke of genius from the petit man would play a decisive role in the mouthwatering showdown.

If you ask me, my money is on Messi and Argentina to come out tops in the prestigious encounter that already has bookmakers drooling.

Enough said for now.

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