All the teams started with the date of December 18 engraved in their heads but only two will be able to be on the pitch today. Argentina or France, one of the two will occupy the world soccer throne for four years. A duel in style and Messi's great opportunity. Here are my 5 tactical keys for the biggest match at the national team level, the World Cup final in Qatar:
The first point that will mark the final goes through the choice of the tactical drawing that Lionel Scaloni makes. Because while France has played all the games in the classic and marked Deschamps 4-2-3-1, Argentina has used various formats. A very real possibility is that he will come out with a defense of five to retain the French offensive potential. And it is that the Argentine coach, apart from being a lover of applying nuances for each game, prioritizes defensive security before anything else. An option that he already used against the Netherlands and with which he finished the match against Croatia. The other option, the 4-4-2 with Julián Álvarez accompanying Messi above.
Like all the games that the ex-azulgrana plays, the main key will go through the frequency and the area in which the most decisive footballer in the world can receive. And that depends on three factors: first, whether the rival closes the area between the lines better or worse. The second, that his closest teammates help him create space to receive. It will be important for Julián Álvarez to stretch the rival defense with constant breakouts (he already usually does it) and for the midfielders to set a little further back to increase the distance between midfield and the opposing defense. And the last one, that he moves well and knows how to detect the spaces to intervene continuously. Something that Messi is super used to and that he is used to doing very well.
Another decisive point is found on the wings, an area in which France can create a lot of danger. In fact, with 52 accumulated good dribbles, it is the team that, by far, generates the most chances from the outside. If Argentina can stop Dembélé and minimize Mbappé, they will have a lot of cattle. If not, the blues will be close to repeating the World Cup.
The other ex-azulgrana is playing at a high level. He has not scored but accumulates three assists. He is the piece that channels the French midfield with the lead. In addition, his position between his lines is essential to put together a team that, without his positioning, would be excessively long. On the other hand, and with an average of 3.5 per game, Griezmann is the one who makes the most key passes in Deschamps' team. But today it will be very difficult for him to make contact in the game and, above all, to play comfortably. And it is that the middle of the Argentine field, formed by mainly positional profiles (De Paul, McAllister, Enzo Fernández or Paredes), will populate the interior areas a lot. They are footballers who read the passing lanes well and the midfielders don't play open, but rather sit inside. Scaloni wants them to position and work behind Messi.
Absolutely key factor. And even more so in a final. If the game progresses evenly, mental strength will be decisive. Argentina has shown that it moves well in suffering and France has players with the experience of playing games like this for the most part. We will see which side each of the teams shows when there is a turning point in the match (goal, expulsion...).
Argentina has an unrivaled competitive gene, but we must not forget that in the only match that they have gone below the score, they lost to Saudi Arabia. As for France, almost the opposite. And it is that of the six games played, only one (Morocco) has left a clean sheet. They have shown they know how to reverse markers but it is very possible that they will fit in at some point in the Final.