After 63 games and over 6000 minutes of thrilling action, the 2022 World Cup finally reaches its climax today in Lusail, where Argentina and France collide in what already promises to be a befitting end to what has been a memorable tournament in Qatar.
This afternoon’s venue – the Lusail Iconic Stadium – is also well-named to host the occasion as Lionel Messi goes head-to-head with PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe in a battle between the competition’s most influential superstars.
Can Messi finally lead Argentina to glory on his World Cup swansong or will the final mark the official passing of the torch to football’s next-best player, Kylian Mbappe?
Below, you can dive straight into our World Cup final stats pack, which is jam-packed with statistical data from a slew of different metrics. All of the info can be used to construct stronger bet builders for the game. If you want to learn a little more about how to get the most out of the numbers, check out my Stats Pack Guide.
Argentina excelled in their 3-0 semi-final victory over Croatia, though Head Coach Lionel Scaloni is still expected to tweak his line-up for today’s showpiece showdown. Left-back Marcos Acuna should slot back in to replace Nicolas Tagliafico following the former’s return from suspension.
Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez worked brilliantly in tandem against the Croatians in the semis and Scaloni won’t want to break that partnership up this afternoon. As a consequence, Angel di Maria could be named on the bench for the fourth game running.
Centre-half Dayot Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot missed France’s semi-final victory over Morocco through illness, though both players will hope to shake off their ailments to make today’s matchday squad.
If Rabiot is fully fit, he should reclaim his starting berth in midfield ahead of Youssouf Fofana, however, Upamecano could struggle to dislodge Ibrahima Konate at centre-half after the latter’s excellent showing against the Moroccans.
Argentina’s shock 2-1 reverse to Saudi Arabia in their opening Group C assignment now seems like a distant, foggy memory and La Albiceleste have been performing well at both ends of the pitch in Qatar since that unexpected early blip.
The South Americans are nestled nicely among the tournament’s top five teams for shots and shots on target for, while only England and France (13 each) have scored more goals in total (Argentina – 12). Interestingly, the Argentineans have won more penalty kicks than any other side in the competition so far (four).
Defensively, Argentina have the edge on France in a number of departments and no team has conceded fewer attempts in Qatar than Lionel Scaloni’s backline (5.37 p/90).
The nation’s World Cup fixtures have also been card-laden and while their opponents have picked up most of the bookings so far, Argentina did blow their lid when they blew their lead against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. They collected a whopping eight cards against the Oranje when panic set in and the game started to go against them. That propensity for implosion when things don’t go their way might be something to consider today.
France have outgunned Argentina for most attacking metrics at the World Cup, though their xG, shots and shots on target against figures all suggest more gaps can be found in the French defence than in the South Americans’.
Les Bleus have been conceding almost twice as many attempts as Argentina so far, and in the World Cup’s knockout phase, the combined shot clock from France’s fixtures reads a galling 42-37 in their opponents’ favour.
France and Argentina are well-matched in terms of corners won, though Didier Deschamps’s outfit have shown cooler heads, collecting just four cards in three knockout round contests overall.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez stole the show against Croatia in the semi-finals when they lodged four of the nine attempts Argentina mustered against the Balkan state.
As obvious as it seems, the members of dynamic duo represent your best options in shot markets today. Messi has racked up more attempts (27) than any other player in Qatar, with France’s Kylian Mbappe (25) running him closest.
Messi and Alvarez both had two shots on target against Croatia and they are available at 5/4 and 16/5 (Paddy Power) respectively, to repeat the trick today. 35-year-old magician Messi will be desperate to be Argentina’s difference-make this afternoon and he also looks an interesting price at 4/1 to hit three or more attempts on target if you’re in the mood for something bigger.
Today’s World Cup Final has been billed as Lionel Messi vs Kylian Mbappe and while there are more layers to the contest, it does still feel like the PSG stars will be the chief protagonists.
Mbappe has had at least three shots in five of his six appearances in Qatar and he should be central to France’s attacking manoeuvres again this afternoon. However, the markets have been priced accordingly and value around the 23-year-old is difficult to find.
Instead, Olivier Giroud could be a better pick at 10/11 (Paddy Power) to notch at least three shots. The 36-year-old, who is happy to fly under the radar for the most part, is a consistent numbers man and he matched that three-shot target against Morocco and England in the previous two rounds.
Bettors hunting longer odds might like the look of Theo Hernandez at 12/5 to clock at least one shot on target today. The marauding left-back, who scored France’s opener against Morocco in the semis, gets forward well and often, and he’s had five attempts on goal in total in Qatar.
Player Goals and Assists
35-year-old Lionel Messi became the oldest man to score five goals in a single FIFA World Cup campaign when he rattled the net from the spot against Croatia and he is one of four players competing in today’s final – alongside Julian Alvarez, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud – in the running for the competition’s Golden Boot.
Messi is king for total goal contributions (eight) however, and the iconic Argentinean forward is generously priced at 5/6 (Paddy Power) to score or assist against France today. With the South Americans listed as the tournament’s most potent-penalty winning outfit, Messi’s price becomes even more attractive.
Julian Alvarez’s goal tally is just one shy of Messi’s, despite the 22-year-old playing over 200 fewer minutes than his teammate. The Manchester City starlet can be backed at 15/8 to land another blow (goal or assist) this afternoon.
When it comes to France’s best goal-scoring candidates, it’s best to keep it simple with Kylian Mbappe (2/1) and Olivier Giroud (3/1) the standpoint Les Blues picks to find the net anytime again.
Antoine Griezmann also catches the eye at 11/4 to claim an assist in the World Cup Final. The schemer has had 31 shot-creating-actions in Qatar, which is almost as many as creative whiz, Lionel Messi (37), and Griezmann – who wields a wicked delivery from set-pieces – has already set up three goals in the competition.
Argentina struggled to get to grips with Mateo Kovacic (three key passes) in the semi-finals and Griezmann will be lurking in the same pockets of space that the Croatian attacking midfielder thrived in last week.
Marcos Acuna is back in the fold following a one-game ban and the robust tackler could be back to his old tricks today when he aims to shut down his flank. Fellow full-back, Nahuel Molina, has been tepid in comparison, committing just three fouls in total at the World Cup, however, the 24-year-old’s tally could rise today when he marks a certain Kylian Mbappe.
At the base of Argentina’s midfield, Leandro Paredes (2.3 tackles per game) will again be deployed to destroy and his remit should include instructions to shackle Antoine Griezmann by any means necessary. There is card-winning potential aplenty in that head-to-head.
Kylian Mbappe (1.32) and Antoine Griezmann (1.54) are familiar with the feeling of picking themselves up off Qatari pitches and both attackers should be in for some heavy-footed treatment from Argentina’s Molina and Paredes this afternoon.
Ousmane Dembele has been fouled just three times in total at the World Cup so far, though the winger faces a genuine hatchet-man in Marcos Acuna today and Dembele’s skills and running power should get Acuna’s heckles up.
Match-Ups to watch
Marcos Acuna vs Ousmane Dembele
Nahuel Molina vs Kylian Mbappe
Leandro Paredes vs Antoine Griezmann
Only five French players have been carded in Qatar, though none of those one-time offenders have been cautioned twice. However, statistically speaking, Argentina have been the World Cup’s most-fouled team so a few more Les Blues bookings could be in the offing today.
In midfield, Adrien Rabiot (seven) and Aurelien Tchouameni (six) rank in positions one and two for most fouls committed in the French ranks and both players could be drawn into skirmishes by their combative Argentinean counterparts today.
Ibrahima Konate hasn’t seen yellow in Qatar, however, a test against Lionel Messi in this afternoon’s final will probably be one of the stiffest he’s faced in his career to date. The 23-year-old – who has played just six times for France – is available at a hefty 12/5 to enter the official’s notebook.
Lionel Messi has been fouled 20 times at the World Cup so far which will make him the most-kicked player on the pitch today by some distance. Messi led Croatia’s promising defender Joško Gvardiol on a merry dance in the semi-finals and France’s Konate, who is in the same bracket, will fear a similar body blow to his reputation. In an attempt to avoid that scenario, he might prefer to foul Messi before he is embarrassed by a mazy dribble.
Alexis Mac Allister and Rodrigo De Paul meanwhile, have been fouled 19 times between them in Qatar and the abrasive midfield duo should be on Tchouameni and Rabiot’s hit lists today.
Match-Ups to watch
Ibrahima Konate vs Lionel Messi
Aurelien Tchouameni vs Alexis Mac Allister
Adrien Rabiot vs Rodridgo De Paul
Argentina have enjoyed an average of 58% possession in Qatar, though they did have less of the ball against the Netherlands and Croatia in the quarter and semi-finals.
Leandro Paredes’s passes figure will undoubtedly draw your attention, though it’s important to remember that those are his distribution numbers per 90. The midfielder has actually only played north of 60 passes in just one of his four appearances at the World Cup.
Instead, Nicolás Otamendi and Rodrigo De Paul represent more solid options if you’re looking to fill bet builder coupon spaces. Both players have started 100% of Argentina’s matches and they have averaged 83.5 and 78.7 passes per runout respectively, making them the most potent ball distributors in La Albiceleste’s ranks.
France have controlled the ball 52% of the time in their World Cup fixtures on average, though they were happy to cede possession against both England and Morocco in previous rounds after they established an early lead.
In terms of the individual stats, midfield staple Aurelien Tchouameni has been a consistent operator and the 22-year-old has surpassed 70 passes in three of his six appearances in Qatar.
Raphaël Varane is pretty far down the list of France’s most prolific passers overall, though it’s interesting to note that Les Blues leaned heavily on his experience when the going got tough in the semi-final against Morocco and the 29-year-old saw much more of the ball than usual.
In fact, Varane played more passes than any other French player against the Moroccans (56) and he could feature prominently in a game of even greater magnitude today.