France prepare to face Argentina in the final

The World Cup final will be a tantalizing encounter between defending champions France and two-time winners Argentina.

France weathered an incredibly difficult semi-final against Morocco 24 hours after Argentina ended Croatia’s dreams of glory.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on the second semi-final and Sunday’s showpiece.

The Blues claim the last place

France survived a major scare before finally seeing off a marvelous Moroccan side to seal their place in the final.

The Blues – who could become the first nation since Brazil’s revered 1962 side to retain the trophy – were pushed all the way before securing a hard-fought 2-0 win to book a meeting with Lionel Messi and company at the stadium Lusail Sunday. night.

Theo Hernandez struck from the start but Morocco, the first African semi-finalists in history, more than equaled their illustrious opponents.

Only a mix of the post and the outstretched glove from Hugo Lloris prevented Jawad El Yamiq from equalizing with a glorious kick, one of many chances for the underdogs as the tie hung in the balance.

Only substitute Randal Kolo Muani’s first goal for France, after a mazy run from Kylian Mbappe, settled things in the closing stages.

Messi vs Mbappe

PSG teammates Mbappe and Messi will face off (Julien Poupart/PA)

The buildup will no doubt center around the game’s two superstars.

Messi, at the age of 35, is looking to win his first World Cup in what will – in all likelihood – be his last tournament.

His Paris St Germain team-mate Mbappe, 12 years his junior, will join an elite group of players who have successfully defended the title should France repeat their Russia 2018 feat.

To add to the subplot, Messi and Mbappe jointly lead the Golden Boot race with five goals each.

Messi failed to score in just one of his six starts, although three goals came from the penalty spot.

Mbappe has blanked three times; once as a 63rd-minute substitute in the defeat to Tunisia and others to England, in the quarter-finals and semi-finals against Morocco.

Another record awaits

Argentina v Croatia - 2022 FIFA World Cup - Semi-Final - Lusail Stadium

The World Cup final awaits (Martin Rickett/PA)

Messi is set to make a record 26th appearance in the final.

Tuesday’s semi-final at the Lusail Stadium was his 25th, which equaled the record held by former Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaus.

Come on, the president’s men

France v Morocco - 2022 FIFA World Cup - Semi Final - Al Bayt Stadium

Emmanuel Macron (right) with FIFA President Gianni Infantino (Martin Rickett/PA)

French President Emmanuel Macron was at the Al Bayt stadium to encourage the Blues.

Then he tweeted: “Thank you Blues. Now the cup!

“To our Moroccan friends. Congratulations on this beautiful trip. You are making football history.

More soon

France v Morocco - 2022 FIFA World Cup - Semi Final - Al Bayt Stadium

Moroccan fans applaud their team (Adam Davy/PA)

Morocco, roared by their raucous fanbase which has been one of the tournament’s delights, still have third place to play for.

They will face Croatia in the third/fourth place play-off at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.

Croatia will play the bronze medal game for the second time. In 1998, in their first World Cup, Croatia beat the Netherlands 2-1.

Picture of the day

France v Morocco - 2022 FIFA World Cup - Semi Final - Al Bayt Stadium

Sofyan Amrabat summed up the Moroccan spirit when he slipped in to steal Kylian Mbappe, leaving the French star in a heap (Nick Potts/PA)

Tweet of the day

Next

Croatia – Morocco, play-off for third-fourth place (Saturday 3 p.m., BBC One)

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