France is at odds with Argentina’s destiny

The 2022 World Cup finale is not without drama.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal versus Croatia during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Through and through, this World Cup has appeared to be Argentina’s to win.

It is more than likely the last time that Lionel Messi, inarguably the greatest footballer in our modern era, will appear on this stage.

It is but the last chance for him to add the final unattained piece of a World Cup win to a legacy already amongst the likes of Pele, Maradonna and Zidane.

Fans throughout the world, but especially those from Argentina, have exuded a desperate and profound hope for Messi to finally ascend the one peak that’s proved so elusive thus far.

Messi’s teammates have shown much of the same, running up-and-down the pitch with an impassioned vigor only befitting of the last ride of such a transcendent talent.

It didn’t start pretty though, as Argentina suffered an unthinkable loss to Saudi Arabia in the group stage, before composing themselves and winning the group outright over solid competition from Poland and Mexico. They overcame a scrappy Australia in the Round of 16 with a score of 2-1, and then played an absolute heartstopper of a quarterfinals match against the Netherlands, one where they went up by two goals before having the game tied in the final 10 minutes of regulation, with Argentina finally proving triumphant in penalties.

In the semi-finals, they ran roughshod over a Croatia team who looked utterly indomitable after outlasting Brazil in their own thriller of a quarterfinals match, winning in a convincing 3-0 shutout.

A victory for Messi and his compatriots seems all but inevitable, a narrative too compelling to ever prove false.

Equally inevitable are their opponents, France.

Being the defending champions and a clear pre-tournament favorite, they have a cadre of high quality secondary talents such as Giroud, Griezmann and Upamecano, all orbiting around Kylian Mbappe’s singularly luminous star.

Indeed, France has played up to expectation, breezing past the group stage with a game to spare over a stealthily good Denmark and the aforementioned Australia, before cleanly winning 3-1 over Poland in the Round of 16. They then advanced past England, their rivals on the field since time immemorial, in the quarterfinal due to a couple of uncharacteristic missed penalty kicks from their star Forward Harry Kane, ending in a score of 2-1. The French then ended the storybook run of an undermanned Morocco 2-0, whose appearance at that semi-final is universally seen as downright miraculous by all measures.

Many have pointed out that the diverse set of ethnic and national origins of the French team’s players could potentially signal a “New France”, one unburdened by a long and often brutal history of colonialism abroad, that their success is but a silent refutation a recent surge of xenophobia heralded by politicians like the ever-popular Marine Le Pen.

They’ve made it abundantly clear they wish to win the trophy once again and become only the third team in World Cup history to ever win the tournament back-to-back.

They’ve also made it look extremely easy every step of the way.

Yet, Argentina is no slouch, and France is undoubtedly aware of the stakes for Messi riding on this singular match, and the fierce passion their opponents will compete with.

Regardless of who you’re rooting for, the question remains:
Is this World Cup finale going to be the last, glorious swan-song from a titan of the game, a player that has enraptured us with his sheer brilliance for the better part of two decades?

Or will this be the coronation of a new force in international play, a team unbelievable in their ability to succeed against any opponent, with racial roots stretching from across the world?

Either way, history will be made.

We will have our answer on Sunday.