Argentina vs France
Anyone who’s seen the glimpses of Julian Alvarez in a Man City shirt this season, knows just what he’s capable of, and the quality that he possesses.
That quality has been evident in his performances at the World Cup, and despite his lack of international experience, the 22 year old forward has excelled with 4 goals in just 4 starts.
1 goal in the group stage has been followed up by a further 3 in the knockouts, with two of those coming against a very experienced Croatia side in the semi-final. He’s firmly in the golden boot race, and as Argentina’s lone striker, presents their best chance of poaching goal from within the penalty area.
A willingness to run, combined with an eye for goal make him an incredible prospect. His 1.74 shots on target from 2.49 shots come as a result of his non-stop movement, and such a high percentage of shots on target bodes well for Alvarez’s chances of scoring here.
He comes up against a French side who have lived dangerously on numerous occasions throughout the tournament.
France have conceded 9.50 shots per game, with 2.50 shots on target against per game. They had conceded in all 5 of their matches prior to the semi-final, and it took some goal-line heroics from right-back Jules Kounde to dispatch of that unwanted record.
There are goals to be had for Argentina, and if Messi is to be the supplier, then surely Alvarez is the scorer.
Joint top scorer at the World Cup and the heir apparent, Kylian Mbappe has once again proven exactly as to why some believe him to be the best in the world as of right now.
Indeed, France have multiple goal threats, but time and time again Mbappe has proven to be a cut above the rest.
The PSG forward has scored 5 of France’s 13 goals at the World Cup. 3 group stage goals were followed by a brace against Poland in the round of 16. He’s failed to score in the last 2 rounds, but his driving runs forward against Morocco highlight that the threat he carries is very much still there. Although not credited with the assists, he did force the two goals in that game.
Mbappe’s shooting stats are incredibly encouraging in this regard as well. 1.88 shots on target P/90 from 4.71 shots P/90 highlights that he’s having consistent efforts at goal. With the 4.04 chances created by Griezmann P/90, as well as the link play service by Giroud, Mbappe should find opportunities with which to shoot, and ultimately score.
He’ll be up against Nahuel Molina and should be able to find some joy. The Argentine right-back has won just 8 of his 20 duels, both on the ground and in the air, so far this World Cup.
Molina has only been dribbled past 0.57 times P/90, but with Mbappe attempting 8.11 dribbles P/90, expect this number to rise, and expect Mbappe to be able to drive towards goal.
With 5 goals and 3 assists to his name, Lionel Messi has turned back the clock and produced performances of old to take Argentina to their second World Cup final in just 8 years.
In what is set to be his last World Cup, Messi has everything in the palm of his hand. World Cup winner, top scorer, best player, and whilst some may expect him to go for goals, and ultimately glory, an assist to set up a teammate is just as likely.
Messi’s 3 assists have been nothing short of sensational. A cute ball inside for Fernandez to slot home against Mexico, a cutting edge pass through the legs of Ake for Molina to run onto against the Netherlands, and a phenomenal run past one of the defenders of the tournament against Croatia.
The little magician really is capable of assisting a goal in any number of ways. His 5.08 attempted dribbles P/90, 2.38 of which are successful, suggest that Messi is able to to move fluidly with the ball and find pockets of space from which to create chances.
When his dribbles aren’t successful, he’s more often than not fouled. The Argentina captain draws 3.17 fouls P/90, and given that he’ll be on set pieces for Argentina, winning as many free kicks as this should present solid opportunities for an assist from a whipped in ball.
Of course, Messi also possesses the passing ability to unlock any defence. He’s mustered 2.86 key passes P/90, and completed more passes into the opponent’s penalty area (15) than any other Argentinian player.
Messi has everything he needs to create a chance, and an assist could materialise in many different ways on Sunday afternoon.
A magnificent talent who’s had an incredible World Cup, Antoine Griezmann has shone in all aspects of the game in his revised, and much deeper, role at this World Cup.
That move into the midfield has arguably given Griezmann more time and space with which to create moments of magic, and his 3 assists at the World Cup are evidence of this.
A sumptuous cross to the far post against Denmark, a lay off to Tchouamaeni against England, and a sublime whipped ball to the near post for Olivier Giroud to head home in the same game, are the ways in which Griezmann has registered his 3 assists. He really can create a chance in any number of ways.
Griezmann’s chance creation has been second to none at this World Cup. With 4.04 chances created P/90, and a total of 21 key passes in 6 games, Griezmann is the man making this French team tick. And, with the likes of Giroud and Mbappe in front of him, France have the players to make these chances count (1.88 and 1.42 Shots on Target P/90 respectively).
Another angle to keep an eye on here are French set pieces. Griezmann will be in charge on that front, and France are likely to be a serious threat from both out wide, and in dead ball situations, especially given Argentina’s struggles to deal with the late aerial pressure applied to them by the Netherlands.
France have scored 6 of their 13 goals at the World Cup from crosses in wide positions or set pieces, and with Griezmann whipping those balls in, such situations could provide a great chance for an assist.
If France are to create chances, and score goals in the final, then expect this man to be the one that conjures them up.