Argentina will face France in the World Cup final on Sunday, which will take place at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.

Argentina will face France in the World Cup final on Sunday, which will take place at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.

The last time Argentina faced France in the World Cup was in a Round of 16 match at the 2018 edition in Russia. France clinched a 4-3 win against Argentina in that match……..Continue Reading

Lionel Messi’s Argentina beat Croatia 3-0 in the semifinal to qualify for the final.

Argentina’s road to the final

Before the tournament began, Argentina wasn’t one of the strongest teams on paper. Obviously, the presence of an in-form Lionel Messi was a boost for La Albiceleste, but in terms of overall squad balance, it was lacking behind teams like Brazil, France, Spain and England. Also, the late exclusion of Giovani Lo Celso was a blow for Lionel Scaloni and his men.

Group stages

When Argentina was paired with Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland in Group C, it was immediately chosen as the favourite to top the group. It ultimately did, but the road was anything but straightforward.

Lionel Messi and his team were scheduled to open its World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium. It started the match as the heavy favourite, and when Messi gave his team a lead from the spot, most thought it to be the start of a big rout.

But the tide turned in the second half when Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari scored in quick succession. Suddenly, Argentina looked weak and desperate for solutions, but couldn’t find any. Saudi beat Argentina 2-1 in one of the biggest World Cup upsets. Argentina finished the match with 62% of the ball and had 14 attempts at goal compared to Saudi’s three.

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Scaloni’s men went into its second match against Mexico as a shaken team, with the tag of favourites having dissipated after the opening day shocker. The team looked nervous in the first half, and Mexico looked like the likelier team to score the first goal. After the first-half finished goalless, Argentina started the second half with an air of confidence, that was lacking in the first.

And then, in the 64th minute, the Lusail stadium saw the wizard wave his wand.

Receiving a pass from Angel Di Maria, Messi created space for himself and launched a low shot at goal from approximately 25 yards out. The placement was perfect, and by the time, Guillermo Ochoa saw the ball and dived, the ball was already past his reach and nestled in the bottom-right corner. Argentina took the bull by its horns after Messi’s opener, and in the 87th minute, Messi assisted Enzo Fernandes from a short corner. The latter had a look up and found the net with a well-taken finesse shot. Argentina won the match 2-0.

Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring his side’s first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022, in Lusail City, Qatar. | Photo Credit: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Heading into its final group match against Poland, Argentina needed a win to ensure qualification. While there were doubts about Argentina’s ability to perform under pressure, it was a relatively easy outing for the two-time world champion. Messi did miss a penalty, but it was a dominating performance by Argentina as it booked its Round of 16 seat with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals by Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez.

Round of 16 

Argentina faced Australia in its Round of 16 match. The difference in quality was massive on paper, but Scaloni and his men could not afford a shred of complacency, especially after the shock loss to Saudi. Also, Australia deserved respect after winning two of its three group games, which included Denmark.

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Argentina eked out a 2-1 win against the Socceroos, but the match had its share of nervy moments.

After Messi and Alvarez gave a 2-0 lead to Argentina, it seemed like a straightforward win for the Albiceleste. However, Enzo Fernandez’s own goal in the 77th minute changed the dynamic of the game, and suddenly Australia was constantly hounding the Argentine backline.

Julian Alvarez of Argentina celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Argentina and Australia at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on December 03, 2022, in Doha, Qatar. | Photo Credit: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

It had two proper chances to score late in the match. Aziz Behich’s shot was blocked by a brilliant slide tackle by Lisandro Martinez, and in the second one, keeper Emiliano Martinez made a save in the seventh minute of second-half additional time to save Garang Kuol’s shot and preserved Argentina’s lead.

Quarterfinal

Argentina’s quarterfinal match against the Netherlands is one for the history books. The match saw 19 yellow cards, a brilliant assist, two late goals, a dramatic penalty shootout and an incensed Lionel Messi – the last one, being a rare sight in a football match.

Nahuel Molina scored the opening goal after Messi set him up with arguably the assist of the tournament. Messi converted from the spot to make it a 2-0 lead, and it looked like a simple win for Argentina.

Nahuel Molina celebrates with Lionel Messi of Argentina after scoring the team’s first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarterfinal match between Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium on December 09, 2022, in Lusail City, Qatar. | Photo Credit: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

But Wout Weghorst scored two goals to force the match into extra-time, with the equaliser coming in the 11th minute of second-half additional time.

The match, which had seen its fair share of tussles and bookings, went into penalties. Emiliano Martinez turned hero in the shootout, saving two penalties and booking Argentina’s place in the semifinals where it would face Croatia.

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Semifinal

It was predicted that Argentina will face its toughest challenge in this World Cup campaign against Croatia, which has made a name for itself because of its ‘never-say-die’ attitude.

However, contrary to popular belief La Albiceleste cruised to a 3-0 win to book its place in the final – the first since the 2014 edition in Brazil.

Julian Alvarez of Argentina celebrates with teammate Lionel Messi after scoring their side’s second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 semifinal match between Argentina and Croatia at Lusail Stadium on December 13, 2022, in Lusail City, Qatar. | Photo Credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

However, contrary to popular belief La Albiceleste cruised to a 3-0 win to book its place in the final – the first since the 2014 edition in Brazil.

Argentina opened the scoring in the 34th minute after Lionel Messi converted from the spot. It was his fifth goal in this World Cup, and he became the joint-highest scorer of this edition with France’s Kylian Mbappe. It was also his record-breaking 11th goal for Argentina in the World Cup as he became his country’s highest scorer in the tournament, breaking Gabriel Batistuta’s tally of 10 goals.

Julian Alvarez doubled Argentina’s lead in the 39th minute. After a brilliant solo run and a stroke of luck, Alvarez slotted the ball past Croatia’s keeper Dominik Livakovic.

However, it was Argentina’s third goal that grabbed the headlines. Messi got the ball on the sidelines and made a blinding run to get inside Croatia’s penalty area after getting the better of his marker Josko Gvardiol. He then passed the ball to Alvarez, who scored with a first-time finish to grab his second.

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