World Cup Final preview:
This is, as you might expect, quite a tough one to call. France have worked their way through the World Cup being quite unspectacular in a very spectacular way. They don’t dominate the ball, using a Pep Guardiola style 2-3-5 to attack like interchanging butterflies twisting in formation. Instead, they wait. Like sleeping lions. 18 hours a day of rest, if needs be. They allow you to control the ball, mark your territory, maintain the tempo you want, how kind of them. Then they snap.
And when that crazy front 4 get going, nobody has the antidote. Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé will tear you apart just as you get comfortable in your chair, and you can’t do anything about it. Against Morocco the story was just like that. The reigning champions sat back, relaxed, with a lovely cup of tea, and decided to strike when Mbappé hopped, skipped and squirmed through 15 defenders before his deflected shot was tapped in to make it 2-0.
Against the French, you don’t get to choose how you play. It’s like building a house of cards with a petulant child, it doesn’t matter how long you spend lining them up, one on top of the other, if the kid wants to blow it down, they will.
Argentina , though, have a magic key. Like a fantasy film, they always use the get-out-of-jail superpower that just so happens to perfectly suit what they need to do. La Albiceleste have that in a player who is really good at football. It’s like they brought him on purpose. I don’t even need to name him.
Yes, Messi can decide the came in a moment of genius, which is what might well happen, and Scaloni will know that. But he will also be aware that France too love to do exactly the same thing with their PSG forward, so his team might reflect some feelings of precaution. It could probably come in the shape of a midfield 4, with Paredes dropping in instead of Ángel Di María, who will feature at some point, just maybe not from the start.
Here’s a couple of in-depth tactical breakdowns of the two teams: