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When was the last time Argentina played in the World Cup final and what happened?

On Sunday 18 December, Argentina will walk out of the tunnel at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar for their 6th World Cup final. They will, after having seen off Croatia in the semi-final, play France in the showpiece event to determine who is the best team in world football.

Argentina: the story of the Qatar World Cup 2022

Salem Aldawsari allowed the ball to nestle snugly on the top of his foot as he plucked it out of the sky like a god calmly puts a star in his pocket. The winger then rotated in a flash, the 180 degree spin unbalancing the defender, whose misstep gave his opponent a yard of space on the edge of the box. It was all Aldawsari needed, he wrapped his foot around the ball and sent the celestial body on a trajectory that curved tantalisingly close to Emiliano Martínez in the Argentina goal before his attempted punch pushed it away from reach and into the net. Saudi Arabia went 1-2 up against the two-time World Champions and held on to it, winning their opening game of the tournament and pouring an entire sea of icy water down the backs of those in light blue and white stripes.

But it was the moment that the story began, the opening credits flashed and the sad music stopped. “There are no excuses,” said Lionel Messi, “now, it’s the time to focus on strength and the unity of the group. It’s time for us to be more united than ever.” Subsequent 2-0 defeats of Mexico and Poland got the side back on track and the South Americans topped the group when the first round came to a close. Wins against Australia and the Netherlands came before they put 3 past Croatia to make it to the World Cup final.

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Messi scored an unbelievable goal to put Argentina 1-0 up against Mexico. KAI PFAFFENBACHREUTERS

Argentina at the 2014 World Cup

The last time Argentina got this far was in Brazil, at the 2014 World Cup. The achieved maximum points in the Group Stage, beating Boznia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, with Messi scoring in all three games. They faced a tough test in the round of 16 against Switzerland, where a late Ángel Di María strike in extra-time sent the South American side through with a 1-0 win.

After that, a strike of a bouncing ball on the edge of the box by Gonzalo Higuaín saw Alejandro Sabella’s side knock out Belgium, again winning 1-0. In the semi-final, Argentina came up against Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands team, who had beaten both Costa Rica and Mexico as well as claiming a historic 1-5 victory over then-holders Spain in their opening group game. The match between Argentina and the Netherlands went to penalties, with the South Americans winning 2-4 in São Paolo, thanks to misses from Vlaar and Sneijder.

Germany's Toni Kroos scores a goal during their 2014 World Cup semi-final against Brazil.

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Germany’s Toni Kroos scores a goal during their 2014 World Cup semi-final against Brazil.EDDIE KEOGHDiarioAS

The day before, Germany had recorded the shock of the tournament and one of the greatest results in sporting history, beating hosts Brazil 1-7 in Belo Horizonte.

What happened in the 2014 World Cup final?

The final against Germany took place in the famous Maracanã stadium, in Rio de Janeiro. The two teams went head to head and both Germany and Argentina missed a multitude of chances in a very nervy affair. The clock ticked on and the teams went to extra-time to see if a winner could be decided. That was when Mario Götze, then of Bayern Munich, popped up with a late winner in the 113th minute to give Germany the lead and put them on a path to becoming world champions.

The final whistle blew and Argentina had failed at the final hurdle, losing to Germany at the very last moment of the game. They would have to wait 8 years for the opportunity to arise again, but it is here, this time against France, at the Qatar World Cup 2022: the chance to become world champions for the third time in their history.

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