By Miftaudeen Raji
Jubilant fans across the world, particularly in France and Argentina are counting down the hours to expectedly one of the most memorable World Cup final in Doha.
The two sides are on the line to make a landmark history in the world of football.
The French team aims to become just the third team to retain the trophy in its 92-year history, towing that path of Italy and Brazil.
France head coach Didier Deschamps – who captained France to victory in 1998 – is also vying to become the first manager since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in 1938 to win consecutive titles.
Meanwhile, the hopes and dreams of Argentina rest on the shoulders of Lionel Messi. Messi is hoping to crown a glittering career with a World Cup win medal in what the 35-year-old captain says will be his final game for his country.
2022 World Cup Final: A welcome distraction in Buenos Aires
In Buenos Aires, it feels like the future happiness of the nation is riding on this World Cup final.
Argentina is a country in a deep economic crisis. Rampant inflation means so many millions struggle to get through each month. But, everyone now seems to have shifted attention away from their worries to the World Cup final.
“This country has been hit so hard, the cup is uniting us, we have this personality, the best footballer in the world and he’s loved everywhere,” says bar owner Luis Sarni.
Beyond Messi though, the entire Argentine team is doing its country proud.
“They say the football pitches don’t vibrate, they have a heartbeat,” Luis says. “Every Argentine sees themselves as a coach, everyone has a different opinion, but the moment we celebrate, we cry, we cry a lot – and hug!”
In Buenos Aires, a mural of the country’s two iconic payers – Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona – highlights the excitement in the air.
For young Martin Rojas, an Argentine who lives in France but is back on holiday visiting family, Sunday’s match means a lot.
“It’s my dream – not since I was born in the 90s have I seen Argentina the champion of the world,” he says. “Of course for Messi it’s his last World Cup – it’s a great last chance for him.”
And it’s a chance for Argentina to feel proud of their beautiful, yet troubled country.
As countdown meets confidence in Paris
In Paris, excitement is reaching fever pitch. For the record, this is France’s fourth final in seven World Cups. Among the statistics being excitedly shared by fans is that France is unbeaten in its last 10 World Cup matches against South American sides. The last defeat was in 1978 – by Argentina.
This can’t help bringing to mind Killian Mbappe’s famous comments earlier this year about South American football not being as “advanced” as European, because of the “lower” level of competition there.
He was referencing the fact that the last South American side to win the cup was Brazil in 2002 – and that Argentina hasn’t won since 1986.
And he probably was also recalling the last France-Argentina encounter – in the Round of 16 in Russia 2018 – which France famously won 4-3, Mbappe himself scoring twice.
All the more reasons for France to feel confident. Though of course from the Argentine perspective, all the more reasons too for wreaking their revenge!
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.