In his means stands the prolific Kylian Mbappe and a France staff aiming to win back-to-back World Cups for the primary time since Pele’s Brazil in 1958 and 1962.
Messi, 35, has collected seven Ballon d’Or awards for the perfect participant on the planet, however the final time he reached the World Cup remaining it ended within the bitter disappointment of defeat to Germany in 2014.
It’s Messi’s quest that can focus the world’s consideration on the 89,000-capacity Lusail Stadium in Doha, essentially the most spectacular of the exceptional venues that the desert state have erected to host the event, for the 1500 GMT kickoff.
“I’m properly conscious that Argentina may have quite a lot of followers behind them,” France coach Didier Deschamps mentioned on the eve of the sport.
“I do know Argentina, many individuals all over the world, and perhaps some French individuals, hope Lionel Messi may win the World Cup, however we’ll do every little thing to realize our goal.”
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez mentioned: “Individuals say the favourites are France. However we’ve the best participant of all time.”
Deschamps has suffered a tough few days since France beat Morocco — the primary African staff ever to achieve the final 4 — within the semi-final.
His squad have been battling a thriller virus that’s believed to have affected 5 gamers thus far.
Central defenders Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate, and winger Kingsley Coman have been pressured to overlook coaching on Friday due to the sickness.
Earlier than that, midfielder Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano have been dominated out of the semi-final.
Gamers, workers and sources near the French squad have spoken of a variety of signs together with fever, abdomen ache and complications.
“We are attempting to take as many precautions as doable, to adapt as essential and get on with it,” Deschamps mentioned.
He had trigger for encouragement when all 24 members of his squad took to the sector initially of their final staff coaching session earlier than the ultimate, though reporters have been ushered away after quarter-hour.
– Emulating Maradona – Captain Hugo Lloris most popular to give attention to the match, insisting he was not concentrating solely on Messi and famous how France had shaken off the injury-enforced absence from the event of key performers Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
“A lot of individuals did not consider in us however right here we’re again within the remaining once more,” mentioned Lloris.
“We all know what Messi represents within the historical past of our sport however this can be a match between France and Argentina. We are going to do every little thing to win this final battle.”
Messi has been sensible in his fifth World Cup and Sunday’s remaining is prone to be his final likelihood to match the achievement of Diego Maradona, who impressed Argentina to victory in Mexico in 1986.
However his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Mbappe, 23, is aiming to develop into the youngest participant to win two World Cups since Pele achieved the feat on the age of 21.
France can even depend on Antoine Griezmann, who has been extremely influential from midfield within the run to the ultimate.
Argentina supporters will dominate within the stadium, with at the very least 40,000 estimated to be in Doha.
Their passionate presence has been one of many options of this uncommon World Cup, performed for the primary time outdoors of its conventional slot in the midst of 12 months.
“All of us consider this shall be Messi’s day,” Ricardo Schwarz, a instructor from Cordoba, instructed AFP on the Souq Waqif within the centre of the Qatari capital.
Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 within the third-place playoff on Saturday, however the north Africans’ coach Walid Regragui predicted a staff from Africa will win the World Cup within the subsequent “15-20 years”.
The following World Cup in 2026 shall be expanded to 48 groups and Africa may have 9 slots, up from 5 at current.
“With 9 individuals, we’ll study. In 15, 20 years, I am positive an African staff will win the World Cup as a result of we’ll have realized,” mentioned Regragui.