Skip to content
Home » Argentina 3-3 France – World Cup Final: Live Updates As Lionel Messi And Co WIN On Penalties

Argentina 3-3 France – World Cup Final: Live Updates As Lionel Messi And Co WIN On Penalties


Some reaction from the French camp…

Despite clawing the match back to a penalty shoot-out, France boss Didier Deschamps was in no mood to forget his side’s woeful performance in the first half.

The reigning champions were going out with a whimper before Mbappe’s quickfire double late on, which handed France a lifeline ahead of extra time.

While blasting his players for lacking the ‘correct attitude’ during the first 45 minutes, Deschamps couldn’t help but mention the virus that blighted the French camp ahead of the final.




Sportsmail’s live blog is set to continue throughout the evening as we bring you live updates following Argentina’s stunning World Cup triumph in Qatar.

Lionel Messi is no doubt the centre of attention right now having finally grasped the World Cup trophy, and former players are jumping to Twitter to laud the Argentine as the ‘best ever’.

Do you agree with Jamie Carragher? Is the debate over?


Some cracking final words there from Oliver…

And that’s where I will sign off tonight’s coverage for myself, and the Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer.

But DON’T go away just yet!

Steering you through the live reaction throughout the evening is BEN WILLCOCKS so make sure you keep this page open. There is PLENTY more to come.

Over to you Ben…


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘The narrative around this final was simple and beautiful. It was the last chance for the man who has been the world’s greatest player for much of the last two decades to win its biggest prize. And Lionel Messi did it.

‘The greatest sportsmen and women find a way to carry their teams over the line to win the most important trophies. And even though France very nearly ruined the script with two astonishing comebacks, Messi did it. He did not blink. He did not falter and he inspired his team to the World Cup.

‘It is hard to compare across the generations so there is no point saying Messi is the greatest of all time but there can be no argument now that he belongs in the pantheon with Pele and Diego Maradona as the greatest players of all time.

‘There are no caveats any more. None. More than that, he is part of a rare breed of Great Ones, players who bestrode their team sports, players like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Tom Brady. Messi is one of the Great Ones now and he was anointed in the greatest World Cup final of all time.’


Messi breaking World Cup records this month feels like it should be its own drinking game

2 – Since the award was officially introduced in 1982, Lionel Messi is the only player to win the Golden Ball twice at the World Cup (2014, 2022). Levels.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2022


England midfielder Declan Rice lauds the greatness of Messi

We will never see a player like Messi ever again.

— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) December 18, 2022


Hurst you MAY remember scored the only other World Cup final hat-trick when England beat… I think it was West Germany 4-2 back in…. was it 1966? Not much is made of it in this country………

The England legend though has sportingly congratulated Mbappe though by welcoming the France hitman to the World Cup final hat-trick club.

Read more below


The moment Messi fans and many football fans have longed to see


Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup trophy to officially crown Argentina as WORLD CHAMPIONS

Lionel Messi gets his medal, then needlessly is draped in a black and gold robe by FIFA chiefs including president Gianni Infantino who has a word or two with him with him arm around him, before allowing the maestro the chance to pick up the trophy greet his team-mates and bounce up and down with them to mark Argentina’s third World Cup win. What a moment!


Now up come the winners…

One-by-one the Argentina players are collecting their medals as their names are being read out. No surprises who will be last to stand and collect theirs….


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘It is a cliche, of course, but France did not deserve to lose that final tonight. They were mediocre in the first half but their second half comeback was absolutely stunning.

‘They came out of nowhere to turn the final into a classic and they could have – should have – won it in the dying seconds of extra time.

‘They were magnificent and Kylian Mbappe, in particular, was dazzling. They were winners, too, in their way but it will not feel like that for them now or ever.’


France trudge up to collect their runners-up medals…

Four years on from winning in Russia, they now get hit with the other side of the coin in the World Cup final. No need for me to tell you they all look devastated.


Any guesses for the Golden Ball award (best player of the tournament)?

Big smiles as Lionel Messi grabs the award, for the second time I might add, he was fortunate to get it back in 2014 – but no doubts now – he has been sensational.

A cheeky kiss of the World Cup trophy as he passes on his way to the podium as he joins the other individual winners for a photo opportunity.


There is a consolation prize for Kylian Mbappe

A hat-trick in the World Cup final is every boy’s dream but it’s a nightmare for Mbappe, whose treble sees him take the Golden Boot with eight goals. He looks ashen faced – no surprise given France’s defeat.


The 2022 World Cup even has its own record


Time for some tournament awards…

Enzo Fernandez is first up, collecting young player of the tournament, up next Emi Martinez takes the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper of the World Cup.


Agony and ecstacy…

The French media are reacting – praising their team’s effort saying they are proud of them in a ‘cruel’ loss.


Finally, out comes the World Cup trophy…

Not before time as the lights dim and the atmosphere increases again. I say ‘not before time’, we all needed a breather after that didn’t we?


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

Messi is not just up there with Pele and Maradona now. He’s up there with Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Tom Brady. He’s one of the Great Ones. One of sport’s very few.

— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) December 18, 2022


Pundits lavish the ‘greatest moments in football history’

Jermaine Jenas: I can’t get my head around this game. One of the greatest moments in football history. Credit to France. Mbappe has got a World Cup hat-trick, he will come again.’

Alan Shearer: ‘I have never seen anything like it. It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you to Messi and Mbappe. I felt it was written in the stars for the biggest star, and it was. They kept going. The mentality and courage they showed to take the penalties. Well done and thank you for entertaining it.’

Rio Ferdinand: ‘I can tell my grandkids I was here for this final. Not only for Messi to lift the world cup, but also seeing the next generation in Mbappe. What a way to finish your international career.’

Pablo Zabaleta: ‘It is one of those moments…. I was looking at Messi, I know what it means.. Well done to France for that great game. But a perfect story for Messi. I am so happy to be here and enjoy that.’

All via BBC


One man I feel for… Kolo Muani

This miss is going to haunt him for the rest of his life. He should have scored and had he done, he would have almost certainly won France their third title. Fine margins folks. He had that header off target too seconds before!


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘I saw Argentina play – and lose – in their first game of this tournament. That defeat by Saudi Arabia was one of the greatest shocks in World Cup history and it is a strange road that led from that to this gilded night in the Lusail Stadium.

‘Messi looked finished during that game with the Saudis. He looked shot. He looked tired. He looked defeated. His dream of winning the tournament was hanging by a thread then but Argentina have got better and better and better as the competition has gone on and they clung on here to get over the finish line.’


The celebrations are still in full flow….

I’m slightly surprised given the 120 minutes of energy put into this but adrenalin must be carrying these players through.

Messi embraces his mother on the pitch with a hug, before rejoining his team-mates who are bouncing up and down in front of their supporters pitchside – with Sergio Aguero getting involved too.


The moment Argentina won their first World Cup in 36 years

Title No 3 if you are playing at home…


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘I have been to seven World Cups now and that was the greatest final I have ever seen. It must have a claim to be the best ever.’

‘We always think of Brazil-Italy in 1970 as epitomising the beauty of football but it was a one-sided contest. And 1966 had drama and comebacks and extra time. But this final had all that, too. And more.’

Don’t just take my word for it, Oliver Holt too is sold on that greatest ever claim.


And here is what it means to the magic man and his team-mates…


I still cannot believe what I have seen

Forget World Cup finals, this may just be the greatest game ever – and I don’t like dealing in hyperbole.

It’s one that also ends in a fairytale fashion of Lionel Messi finally getting his hands on the World Cup. What drama!


FULL-TIME: Argentina 3-3 France (Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)

Argentina are the world champions


GOAL! Argentina 4-2 France

Gonzalo Montiel scores – Argentina win the World Cup


GOAL! Argentina 3-2 France

Randal Kolo Muani scores


GOAL! Argentina 3-1 France

Leandro Paredes scores


MISSED! Argentina 2-1 France

Aurelien Tchouameni misses


GOAL! Argentina 2-1 France

Paulo Dybala scores


SAVED! Argentina 1-1 France

Kingsley Coman has shot saved


GOAL! Argentina 1-1 France

Lionel Messi scores


GOAL! Argentina 0-1 France

Kylian Mbappe scores

Those two late France chances by the way…

…this is how close they came to stealing victory! 

Penalties coming up now!


END OF EXTRA-TIME: Argentina 3-3 France

To penalty kicks we go after one of the most incredible, bonkers, entertaining and pulsating games I have ever had the pleasure of watching. SENSATIONAL!

Argentina 3-3 France

120+1min: Best game I’ve ever seen. It’s certainly up there! Kolo Muani headers wide but then he is put through on goal on a one-on-one only for Martinez to save!


GOAL! Argentina 3-3 FRANCE

118min: You can’t write this stuff! Montiel is booked for a handball (hand was raised blocking a shot) and Kylian Mbappe shows Kane how it’s done by slotting home his second penalty for his hat-trick – the first in a final since 1966  (Geoff Hurst and all that).


PENALTY (France)

Nope, not joking!!!!!!

Argentina 3-2 France

115min: Paredes is booked after chopping down Camavinga.


Messi’s magic moment that will immortalise him

It’s also his seventh goal of the finals – drawing him level again with Mbappe.



109min: The scenes! Argentina attack the right and after Lloris saves a near post shot, Lionel Messi fires the rebound home despite an attempted clearance off the line. France want an offside call on Martinez but it’s not going to come, and Messi may have just won his side the World Cup!

Argentina 2-2 France

108min: Decent effort from Messi who with a turn and volley fires a shot towards the bottom corner at Lloris’s near post. The Spurs keeper may have made a mess of that but he kept it out – and that’s what matters.


SECOND-HALF: To the final 15 minutes of play we go


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘If it goes to penalties – and I hope it doesn’t – then I think Argentina would be favourites.

‘They would have the memory of that ill-tempered shoot-out with the Netherlands to sustain them, particularly the stellar performance of Emi Martinez in goal.’


HALF-TIME: Argentina 2-2 France

Argentina 2-2 France

105+1min: An even better chance for Martinez! This time he is through on goal but a recovering Upamecano just about puts him off enough to force him into firing wide.

Argentina 2-2 France

105min: Prime Messi strikes! He gets the ball 25 yards out, goes on a burst dribble playing a one-two before feeding Lautaro Martinez, whose low shot is crucially blocked by Dayot Upamecano.

Montiel follows up with a scissors volley, but Raphael Varane gets his head in the way to block.


Double Argentina substitution

102min: And they are needed. Julio Alvarez and Rodrigo De Paul make way for Lautaro Martinez and Leandro Paredes, who lost his place in the side today to Di Maria.

Argentina 2-2 France

100min: France though are still the team on top, to the point Messi is now back defending as he diverts play out for a corner.

Argentina 2-2 France

98min: That full-time whistle came at just the right time for Argentina who, to me, were in a state of panic after conceding those two France goals. They have regrouped slightly but are still nowhere near the dominant team they were for the first 80 minutes of this game.


Argentina 2-2 France

96min: Youssouf Fofana comes on to replace Adrien Rabiot, who may have suffered a suspected concussion.

A calmer start to the opening of extra-time but the tempo is still quite high.


EXTRA-TIME: Away we go again

Nahuel Molina departs for Argentina at full-back as Gonzalo Montiel replaces him.

During the madness of the France comeback to full-time I forgot to add that Olivier Giroud, who was subbed in the first half, was booked for a show of dissent from the bench. Acuna has also been booked.


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘Out of an utterly one-sided match, suddenly we have got a World Cup Final that has turned into a classic.

‘What a comeback from France and reason would suggest that they will approach extra time in a far more positive frame of mind than Argentina.

‘Some Argentina players already look shattered but what has Messi got left? Enough to produce that piledriver in the last minute of added time that was saved by Lloris.

‘What an ending that would have been but France are no longer in the mood to indulge the Messi fairy tale.’


END OF 90 MINUTES: Argentina 2-2 France

Including stoppage time, that might be the most sensational 18 World Cup minutes I have ever seen – and I’m factoring in recency bias there.

The good news is we now have another 30 minutes of this pulsating encounter.

Still, where on earth did that France response come from. Approaching 80 minutes they look finished having done nothing all game!


Argentina 2-2 France

90+7min: And then Messi nearly finishes it! From the edge of the box the maestro lets fly with a rising drive only for him to fire straight at Lloris who still does well to punch the ball over.

Argentina 2-2 France

90+4min: It is ALL France. Argentina have collapsed. A low ball into the box sees Martinez save from close range, before Cristian Romero knees the ball towards Martinez to gather. Back pass? Apparently not.

I am not joking in suggesting Argentina are hanging on here – they desperately need extra-time as Enzo Fernandez darts back from midfield to make a crucial sliding tackle on Kolo Muani inside the box.


Argentina 2-2 France

90+1min: France are now pushing for a winner. How this game has turned around in the last 10 minutes. I promise you this was a totally unthinkable scenario even 10 seconds before France had their penalty kick.

Mbappe’s double by the way now makes him the World Cup’s top goalscorer with seven goals.


Argentina 2-2 France

88min: France are all over Argentina now and want a second penalty after Marcus Thuram goes down inside the box. But he is correctly booked for diving. Brilliant officiating.


Mbappe took a while to get going – but how dare we write him off…

2 – Kylian Mbappé has scored two goals in the space of 97 seconds, becoming the first player to score a brace in a World Cup final since Ronaldo for Brazil vs Germany in 2002. Ignition.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2022


GOAL! Argentina 2-2 FRANCE

81min: WHAT ON EARTH?!

This is sensational – in just 90 seconds. France have gone from being finished to being level!

Coman plays a ball to Kylian Mbappe, who after playing a one-two with Rabiot volleys superbly into the bottom corner across goal. A sensational World Cup story and moment for the ages this.

Who saw this coming?!


GOAL! Argentina 2-1 FRANCE

80min: France have done nothing – absolutely nothing. Now though it is game on, as Kylian Mbappe squeezes his penalty into the bottom corner past Emi Martinez who perhaps could have done a bit better there.


PENALTY (France)

From nowhere, totally nowhere, France have a penalty. Nicolas Otamendi pulls down Randal Kolo Muani inside the box. Kylian Mbappe steps up…


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘Griezmann substituted after 70 minutes. So much expected of him today and talked about as one of the players of the tournament before this match.

‘But he was totally anonymous in the final. He barely contributed. He, as much as anyone, has been the symbol of France’s submission in this match up to this point.’


Double France substitution

Theo Hernandez and the frankly awful Antoine Griezmann depart as Eduardo Camavinga and Kingsley Coman come on, Moments before, Mbappe finally had a shot… but that too was never troubling Martinez as it flew over the bar.

Argentina 2-0 France

67min: It’s an actual France shot – but not on target. Kolo Muani nods wide of the near post after leaping high to meet a cross. Martinez gets back to reading his daily paper as he leans against the post…


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

Rewatched the second Argentina goal a few times at half time. Such a beautiful move. Most struck by the brilliance of Alexis Mac Allister in it. His movement and then the vision and the unselfishness of the ball to Di Maria. Brighton’s finest.

— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) December 18, 2022


Argentina substitution

64min: Marcos Acuna, who pulled out the starting XI, comes on to replace Angel di Maria who goes off to huge cheers around the ground in what is set to be his final tournament with Argentina.

Meanwhile the South American side are denied another penalty, with Dayot Upamecano appaering to nudge over Alexis Mac Allister inside the box. That wasn’t too different to how Mason Mount was brought down for England in the quarter-final…

Argentina 2-0 France

60min: All we are seeing though now is time for Argentina to find a third goal. Julian Alvarez forces Hugo Lloris into a near post save, while Messi is challenged at the last moment by Rabiot to before firing behind.


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘I’m starting to wonder if France will say after the match that the virus some of their players have been suffering from has been worse than we have been told.

‘Their performance has been so lifeless that it feels as if there has got to be some other explanation. They’ve been so poor it’s strange. Still time yet, of course.’


Deschamps slams his side for not having the right ‘attitide’

Didier Deschamps told TF1 ‘We got through the first-half. We expected it, the players were warned but we had neither the attitude nor the respondent.

We are down 2-0. It will take a lot of other things to worry them and come back to equalise. They have to fight.

Descamps by the way has reappeared for the second half with tape to his thumb that he didn’t have in the first half. Broken tea cups perhaps?

Argentina 2-0 France

55min: Meanwhile Adrien Rabiot is booked for a poor challenge on De Paul who now needs a bit of treatment.

Argentina 2-0 France

53min: France have been so bad that Emi Martinez in the Argentina goal is creating his own drama, running out of his box to poorly slice a kick before his defenders bail him out.


Just to sum up how bad France’s first half was by the way…

Argentina 2-0 France

49min: No signs of France coming back into the game just yet. In fact Argentina go for a third goal as a high ball across the box finds Rodrigo De Paul, who on the volley can only shoot straight at Hugo Lloris. Good effort though.


SECOND HALF: No additional changes as we get back underway

No surprises to learn France were out early after their dreadful first half display…


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘The white heat of a World Cup final causes all kinds of casualties. France have been a shadow of the team that has cut a swathe through this tournament but it was still sobering to see Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele substituted before half time.

‘That kind of thing, taken off after 40 minutes of the World Cup final, is going to stay with you.

‘France coach Didier Deschamps obviously decided France were being so badly beaten that he couldn’t wait until the interval. It was a brave move to take off two of his starters but it was brutal.’


Gary Neville not impressed with Dembele’s play to give away the penalty

He wasn’t pulling back his punches describing the forward’s role in tripping Di Maria, calling his play ‘pathetic’ as well as ’embarrassing, stupidity’ and getting ‘played like a little boy’ shortly before he too departed.


Giroud clearly devastated after his early departure


HALF-TIME: Argentina 2-0 France


Argentina 2-0 France

45+7min: Enzo Fernandez is the first man booked following a foul. A very rare Argentine blemish in that first period.

Argentina 2-0 France

45+4min: I haven’t seen a team this stunned in a World Cup final since perhaps Brazil in 1998. That game was overshadowed over the pre-match fitness of star striker Ronaldo and it led to an uncharacteristic disjointed performance from the South American side, ironically against France.

France have been absolutely dreadful so far. Whether it’s down their players who had a virus not quite as fit as first thought or something else. Deschamps is going to need a huge half-time team-talk here.


More Messi records incoming – this tournament really was made for him


Argentina 2-0 France

45+1min: There will be seven added minutes, by the way, Kylian Mbappe has touched the ball just 10 times so far – that’s fewer than any other outfield player and the same as Argentine keeper Emi Martinez who probably should have brought out some reading material given how little he has had to do.


More Messi history in a dream first half for him and Argentina

1 – Lionel Messi is the first player to score in the group stage, round of 16, quater-final, semi-final and final in a single edition of the World Cup. Prestige.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2022


Not surprised Deschamps has made a change when his team were carved open as easy as this…


Double France substitution

41min: France’s final is crumbling so badly that Didier Deschamps has already made a double change. Off come Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud as Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani come on.


Jamie Carragher sums up this first half so far quite nicely…



36min: Brutal! France lose the ball again and Argentina punish them on the counter attack. Messi flicks the ball up before releasing Alexis Mac Allister into space on the right, who then plays a low ball across goal for Angel di Maria to convert at the far post.

Superb goal, that. Di Maria is in tears!

Argentina 1-0 France

32min: Messi by the way is also now the tournament’s top goal scorer with six goals now… four of those have been penalties. They all count I guess.

France by the way are all over the place. This is by far the worst they have started a match so far at these finals.


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘Everybody worried that the weight of expectation would be so great it would crush Argentina. The opposite is true at the moment. It seems to be inspiring. France are the team who had not started yet. They have frozen.’


How Messi gave Argentina the lead…



23min: Only one man is taking this – and to little surprise, Lionel Messi scores sending Lloris the wrong way from the penalty spot. The stadium of largely Argentine fans erupts.


PENALTY (Argentina)

It’s clumsy from Ousmane Dembele who trips Angel di Maria inside the box. It’s also softy but VAR is not overturning that – and so it shouldn’t.


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘A half chance slipped away from Messi. And a better chance was fluffed by Di Maria. Both men look to the skies. Argentina have to seize their opportunities while they are on top or, as England found out, France will punish them.’

Argentina 0-0 France

20min: About as close as France have come to doing anything in an attacking sense but Olivier Giroud heads over.

Argentina 0-0 France

17min: Having said that, France lose the ball on the left side and it leads to Rodrigo De Paul cutting a ball back into the box. It’s behind Lionel Messi but it does find Angel di Maria who wastefully fires way over the bar with a first time effort.

Argentina 0-0 France

14min: Little sign of French improvement. They have at least calmed down Argentina’s fast attacking start but are making little inroads into troubling the South American defence.


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘Argentina have started superbly. Stronger, hungrier, sharper, faster. They’re snarling and snapping their way into challenges. France are struggling to get any sort of foothold in the game.’

Argentina 0-0 France

8min: Rodrigo De Paul sees a shot deflected behind for a corner, before there is a bit of Spurs-on-Spurs action as Cristian Romero challenges Hugo Lloris.

Lloris even needs a bit of treatment and lets the referee know he isn’t happy that Romero wasn’t punished.

Hotspur Way will sure be an interesting place to be at in the next few days or so…

Argentina 0-0 France

5min: France have been a bit wobbly so far, they can’t get their passes together as Alexis Mac Allister has the first shot on goal with a 25-yard effort straight at Hugo Lloris.

Kylian Mbappe of France controls the ball against Lionel Messi of Argentina

Argentina 0-0 France

3min: Argentina, thanks to their huge partisan following, take the pre-match battle in terms of passion and they attack France early here.

A couple of ‘let them know you’re there’ challenges from both teams early on but no chances as yet.


KICK-OFF: The World Cup final gets underway

A reminder of the team news as we get going

Argentina: Damian Martinez, Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Di Maria, De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister, Messi, Alvarez.

Subs: Armani, Foyth, Montiel, Paredes, Pezzella, Acuna, Rulli, Palacios, Correa, Almada, Gomez, Rodriguez, Dybala, Lisandro Martinez, Lautaro Martinez.

France: Lloris, Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, Theo Hernandez, Tchouameni, Rabiot, Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud.

Subs: Pavard, Disasi, Guendouzi, Muani, Fofana, Veretout, Mandanda, Saliba, Coman, Areola, Konate, Camavinga, Thuram.


Some big names from around the world of sport are in Lusail…

Javier Pastore, Novak Djokovic, Nasser Al Khelaifi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Paul Pogba have also made it to Lusail as the players make their way out of the tunnel.


From MailOnline’s Shekhar Bhatia in Doha

‘Argentine fans outnumbered the French supporters by around 90 per cent in the 89,000-seater Lusail Stadium.

‘France’s team emerged from their team bus quietly while Argentine’s players including talisman Lionel Messi sang and danced around their bus, much to the bemusement of their Sikh driver whose turban was the same colour as the South Americans light blue.

‘Messi was last off the bus and first onto the pitch for the warm up and received the loudest reception while Kylian Mbappe was cheered loudly by the French supporters massed behind a goal.

‘The World Cup final is the 64th match of the tournament for which around £180 billion has been spent on to stage by Qatar.

‘Tickets were being sold on the black market for up to £5,000 a few hours before kick-off.’


Lots of love for Deschamps outside of France too…

Pablo Zabaleta: ‘You can see what he means to the players, he is like a father. It makes a huge difference for a football team when you have a leader that everyone will follow.’

Alan Shearer spoke highly of Deschamps’ man management before saying: ‘The best bit of man management for me was with Terry Venables leading into Euro 96. He took me aside and said regardless of what happens in the next two friendly games, you will be my centre forward. It gave me huge confidence.

Both speaking on the BBC


History beckons too for France manager Didier Deschamps

2 – Didier Deschamps could become only the second manager to lead a nation to victory at two separate World Cups, after Vittorio Pozzo with Italy in 1934 and 1938. Deschamps has won 14 of his 18 matches as manager at the finals (D2 L2). Insight.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2022


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘Huge roars from the crowd inside the Lusail Stadium as Lionel Messi’s face appears on the four big screens at each corner of the arena as the team are announced.

‘There are going to be other great players on the pitch here in this final but this match is about Messi. He has been the greatest player in the world for most of the last two decades and this represents his last chance to win football’s biggest prize.

‘Narratives don’t get much more simple or compelling than that.’


The warm ups are underway at the Lusail Stadium

Not going to lie, I had to double take at the Antoine Griezmann picture – I thought he was doing an incredible jumping splits.


France are looking to make history today

If France win today, they will become the first team to defend the trophy since Brazil in 1962 (below) when even without the injured Pele for much of the competition they still triumphed in Chile. Football was played in black and white in those days of course…


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘Now we have got a Closing Ceremony. Confession. I have no time for Opening or Closing ceremonies unless they happen at the Olympic Games.

‘Most of the time, they feel like half-hearted, absurd affectations. But maybe, I’m out of step.

‘Judging by the outrage that greeted the BBC debating the issues around this World Cup rather than screening the Opening Ceremony in its entirety, I imagine everyone will be gripped by every single second of this finale.’


Argentina make a late change to their starting XI

It’s the team we reported from earlier but Marcos Acuna has had to pull out meaning Nicolas Tagliafico keeps his place.

Angel di Maria though returns for the first time since the group stage and displaces Leandro Paredes in the side.


The closing ceremony is now underway at the Lusail Stadium

Oliver is of course referring to how BBC opted against screening the opening ceremony.

For the record, they are not – at least not as I type. ITV though are…

Now we’ve got a Closing Ceremony. I do hope the BBC are covering every single second of its gripping progress or else a lot of deprived viewers are going to get very upset

— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) December 18, 2022


From Mail on Sunday’s chief sports writer Oliver Holt in Lusail

‘It turns out that World Cup Final day, December 18, is also Qatar National Day. It has been designated Qatar National Day since before Qatar won the right to stage the tournament so what a hugely fortuitous co-incidence that it should coincide with the most momentous event in Qatar’s relatively short history.

‘Either that or the organisers were planning for a winter World Cup all along. It all fits with one of the themes of this World Cup. Nothing is quite as it seems.’


France make two changes as their fitness doubts pull through

Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot had been low with a virus but all three start along with Olivier Giroud who was also a doubt today.

Ibrahima Konate and Youssouf Fofana drop out the side as Rabiot and Upamecano return.

Kylian Mbappe of France arrives at the stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup final


And now the confirmed France starting XI


France and Argentina’s previous World Cup clash was four years ago

We’ve already through their other two meetings at this tournament, but their most recent was only four years ago, with France running out 4-2 winners in the last-16 clash in Russia. 

A see-saw game resulted in France taking the lead with an Antoine Griezmann penalty only for Angel Di Maria and Gabriel Mercado to score for Argentina either side of half-time.

France though hit a three-goal blitz in 11 minutes starting with Benjamin Pavard before the hour mark before Kylian Mbappe found the net twice.

Sergio Aguero hit a consolation goal in the last minute but it wasn’t enough to prevent Jorge Sampaoli’s side being dumped out.

Argentina have to go back 13 years for their last win over France beating them 2-0 in a Marseille friendly thanks to goals from Jonas Gutierrez and Lionel Messi.

France don’t have a great record over Argentina – winning just three of their 12 overall meetings, Argentina taking six of them.


Whatever happens, Lionel Messi will be making history today

Speaking of Messi, big cheers from inside the stadium from the Argentina fans as they see the forward on the big screens arriving on the team bus.


Messi’s family have taken their place inside the Lusail Stadium stands

Antonela Roccuzzo (centre), wife of Lionel Messi, arrives for thegame

The mother of Lionel Messi Celia Maria Cuccittini stands as she hopes to see her son win


France boss Didier Deschamps has already arrived too with his side


Former Argentina and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero believes the current crop of stars will already go down in history


Beating the traffic and the trains is our man Oliver Holt in Lusail


Reported Argentina starting XI

Martinez, Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna, Di Maria, De Paul, Enzo Fernandez, Mac Allister, Messi, Alvarez.


As you may have gathered by now, England are not very popular due a conflict from 40 years ago.

But then again France have hardly had the greatest relationships historically with England too. Basically if you are an English fan watching the final, it may not be easy to pick a team to support today!


The Lusail Stadium though is starting to fill with fans ahead of the game


British boxing star Amir Khan is one of the lucky fans to have a final ticket

But he may also be one of the unlucky supporters stuck in traffic…


Qatar’s entire transport system is crumbling it seems

If only we knew there would be a World Cup final today?…

Anywyay, the roads are struggling too. Taxi drivers dropping fans 50 minutes from the Lusail Stadium to avoid gridlock.

All Doha Metro stations and roads around the stadium are currently experiencing high demand. Access to the stations is delayed and lengthy waiting times should be expected.

And I thought London’s Central Line had hit new lows…


Meanwhile on the metro carnage in Qatar…

Meanwhile on the Qatar trains, chaos the latest from the Supreme Committee is that security staff are ‘pausing’ people at the entrances and then letting them into key Metro stations to regulate the flow into the system.


The boffins have spoken – it’s an Argentina victory on the cards

Not too sure on the data used for this, but it’s as close too quantitative data as we can get I guess to try and predict a winner.


Benzema might have snubbed the final… but he is still behind France


France are looking quite unstoppable during these crunch games

7 – France have won all seven of their World Cup knockout games since the start of the 2018 tournament. In World Cup history, only Brazil from 1958 to 1970 (9) have ever had a longer winning run in knockout matches at the finals. Unfazed.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2022


Here is the reported French team as they leave for the ground

Lloris, Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T.Hernandez, Griezmann, Tchouameni, Rabiot, O.Dembele, Mbappe, Giroud.

Looks like Giroud and Varane have overcome potential fitness issues to start.


An aerial display of the Qatari Emiri Air Force fly over the Lusail Stadium


KATE HIND: Little did Antonela Roccuzzo know that when she met a young boy who dreamed of being of being a footballer when she was just five, that she would be cheering on the best player on the planet in today’s World Cup final. 

Read more below


The boots Lionel Messi will be wearing for this World Cup final

Stitched onto his left boot are the names of his third son Ciro as well as his wife’s name Anto(nela).

I assume the names of his other two children Thiago and Mateo are on the other boot?


It’s not getting that much better at the Msheireb station…


The Argentina shirts are all lined up in the changing room in Lusail


There have been three meetings between these teams at a World Cup

Yes, just the three – despite this story going back to the very start of the competition. The first came in the first edition in 1930, with Argentina winning a group stage clash 1-0, the second didn’t happen for another 48 years when they met during the finals hosted by the South American side. Nothing had changed though, with Argentina winning this group stage match too, triumphing 2-1 (below).

Captain Daniel Passarella opened the scoring with a penalty in Buenos Aires on half-time before Michel Platini equalised on the hour, only for Leopoldo Luque to give Argentina the lead again in the 73rd minute.


CHARLOTTE DALY: France have secured a place in the World Cup final without Pogba – who was ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury after recovering from his knee surgery. 

Read more here


Oliver Holt is en route to the ground along with Argentina fans it seems


Sunday at the Lusail Stadium in the northern suburbs of Doha, where the city starts to think about giving way to the desert, a great odyssey, a quest which will define the sporting element of this most controversial of World Cups, will draw to a close when Lionel Messi, the world’s greatest footballer for much of the last two decades, tries to win the one prize that has eluded him.


Rio Ferdinand is also en route to the Lusail Stadium as a BBC pundit


Another major final, another system of chaos is occuring

On the Msheireb station in Doha, some bright spark has decided to change the routeway system including the escalators ahead of the World Cup final and it’s causing manic problems right now.

Let’s hope this is sorted out sooner rather than later…


Big smiles as usual from Ian Wright and Gary Neville… and I guess that’s about as close we will get to one from Roy Keane!


Sportsmail’s Max Mathews lays out his joint France-Argentina team ahead of this weekend’s tournament showpiece. 

Read more below


This Tweet has been doing the rounds…

Lots to go at here. Let’s start by saying this is already wrong as Messi is now 35 years old.

But is this such a big prediction even if it was from seven years ago? By then we knew this would be a winter World Cup and it’s not a total surprise to see Argentina in a final is it?

I’ll throw this one out there for you to chew over.


First of those to arrive at Lusail… the riot police of course

Can never be too careful I guess – thankfully though we haven’t seen much use of them during these finals.


Molina, Romero and Lisandro Martinez are on an ’emotional’ journey

They’ve played together since they were kids, and today they could all land a mutual dream together despite having gone their separate ways in their professional careers.


How the French and Argentine media are covering today


Karim Benzema emerged as a shock contender to return from injury for the World Cup final this week having missed the entire tournament.

But if you hoped to see him in the final at some point today, well, you’ve probably got more chance of seeing England there…

Read more below


Even the animal kingdom is finding this too tough to call

A group of gibbons in Zagreb zoo have been predicting results all tournament but in what looks like being a very tight final to call, it appears even they are split on who will win in Lusail.

Paul the Octopus wouldn’t have stood for this ‘sitting on the fence’ nonsense.


Too far for national support?

Is this too petty or just a laugh? A Paris metro station has reportedly changed its name from Argentina to France just for the World Cup final.

Not too sure if it is really necessary myself. I mean it does little for less regular users of the service who may not even be aware or care for the World Cup final and just leave them potentially confused, but then maybe I’m just flexing too much for the fun police.


I’d say on balance the big narrative today is on if Lionel Messi can finally win the World Cup and follow past great forwards for the country to have done just that including Diego Maradona and Mario Kempes.

The latter has recently spoken to the Mail on Sunday’s Rob Draper and warns Argentina that unless they win they will quickly become forgotten.

Read more below


Argentina fans are already in the mood ahead of the final in Lusail


The road to the final…

Putting aside all the politics that have hung over this tournament, judging this edition of the World Cup on its sporting merits it’s been a cracker hasn’t it?

I won’t go as far as saying ‘the best of all time’ but I’ve certainly seen worse (cough, cough, South Africa 2010).

Here’s a snapshot of the knock-out stages that show France and Argentina’s route to the final after topping their respective groups.


Lionel Messi’s crowning moment or modern day greatness for France?

Only one can prevail as one of the greatest players of all time looks to win the World Cup with his likely final chance, while France look to create history by becoming the first team to defend their status as world champions for the first time since 1962.

Either way it’s going to be a seismic day in the football calendar as I welcome you to our live coverage of the World Cup final.