It has flown by since the World Cup was held in the country. The European club season began in the middle of the year. It's hard to believe that the tournament began 26 days ago, yet so much has happened in that time, including France and Argentina playing in the final on Sunday at 10 a.m. There is an hour and a half later.
The defending champion would have been expected to be here. With Argentina having lost to Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the World Cup, it is more of a surprise that they are in the final. Can you ever be surprised that your team is in the running for a trophy?
With the World Cup final just 48 hours away, what should we expect from a meeting of two powerhouses? In order to find out, we were asked to weigh in on the game between France and the Albiceleste.
There will be news and features at the World Cup.
We have never had a World Cup final like this. Adding to the drama are two world-class superstars and club teammates. The heir to Messi's throne is Kylian Mbappe.
It would be the perfect ending to a World Cup journey that has been full of disappointment, from early exits to a final defeat.
It would be another piece of history for the young man. He would become the second-oldest player to win back-to-back World Cups at the age of 23.
It can only be one winner. Their talent, leadership and how they can impact a final on the biggest stage of all will be showcased on Sunday. The next Ballon d'Or is at stake here, as well as the best player of the tournament and the top goal- scorer.
The last time they played, it was 4-3 to France, so there is a lot to look forward to.
The final pits two of Paris Saint-Germain's leading stars against each other in a match that is likely to be very physical. The football itself has been very entertaining for a tournament overshadowed by off-field scandals. This World Cup is the final it deserves.
France becoming only the third back-to-back winners in history or Argentina ending a 36 year wait for a World Cup win will add a new chapter to their rich football history. The final pitching of two powerhouses of the global game is what everyone wants to see and it has been enriched by surprising success stories. It's probably what they had in mind when they won the bid to host the tournament in the first place.
France has an individual namedAntoine Griezmann.
France's most important player in the final could be Griezmann, who could prove to be the difference between a win and a loss. A natural forward, he's been reinvented as a center back in this tournament and will have a huge task in helping to prop up France's center backs while also providing the creative spark behind the strikers. His mobility will be a challenge for an Argentina center fielder.
In Argentina, there is a person named Enzo Fernandez.
Argentina are short on creativity, and that will be an issue if France plays on the counter, as they like to do. The Benfica youngster is more of an all-rounder than a creator, but he has the spark and dynamism to create overloads and run down that inside left channel. Argentina may need a disruptor like him against a tight France setup.
After a loss to Saudi Arabia and a tough encounter with Mexico in the first two games of the tournament, the team took time to adjust. Everything changed when that goal was scored. Messi began to take his game to another level as they grew in belief.
The Argentina team that won the World Cup in 1986 and then lost the final in 1990 is part of the class of 2022.
Diego Maradona produced moments of match-winning genius at every round of the knockout stage. Argentina lost their opening game and battled through to the final by showing their physical and mental strength in tight knockout games.
Messi's magic has been similar to Maradona's in wins against Australia, Netherlands and Croatia, but just as Caniggia did in 1990.
The 1990 final was too far for Maradona and Argentina, so they need to repeat their 1986 performance.
Within 10 minutes of their opening World Cup game against Australia, France gave up. Nobody saw Les Bleus reaching the final despite the injuries and troubles they had in the build up. They turned the situation around.
In the end, France came back to beat Australia 4-1, and then they played a great game against the Danes, winning 2-0 with two goals from Mbappe. They lost to Tunisia in the final game of the group, but normal service was resumed against Poland in the knockouts.
Despite being outplayed for large parts against England in the quarterfinals, France was still able to win with a perfect blend of ruthlessness and efficiency. Les Bleus have a chance to complete a double after a weakened Morocco were dispatched in the semifinals.
We take a look back at the highlights and lowlights of the World Cup in 2022.
Is France able to repeat?
France can win their second successive World Cup, just like Italy and Brazil did in 1934 and 1962. The four-year gap, the turnover in players, and the knockout formula are some of the reasons why a repeat is rare. To be 90 minutes away from lifting another World Cup is a testament to France's talent and the way that talent has been handled by DesChamps.
Do you know what will happen next?
The French Football Federation set a target of reaching the semifinals for Deschamps, and he has accomplished that. The football hasn't always been good. In the quarterfinals, France had to rely on their luck against England, and in the semis, they had to rely on their luck as well. Four years ago in Russia, this squad played a similar way to win the trophy.
Whatever happens on Sunday, there is a chance for Deschamps to stay. The federation wants him to stay on after his contract ends. If they win, he could go out as a double champion, the first man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach in the same year. Why don't you stop at that place? France will be one of the favorites for Euro 2024.
He might feel a sense of revenge if they lose, since he hasn't won a European Championship or a title in the last two years. He could feel that he's had his time and that he's about to be taken over by another person. The immediate aftermath will be very interesting.
Argentina fans have been great.
They have been a huge help to the team, but Argentina's fans have turned the place into a place of joy and music. You can't walk 5 yards without seeing at least one of them.
Argentina's fans have been a great story of the World Cup. They have supported, encouraged and given strength to Messi and the team with their constant chanting, jumping and energy but they have also acted with class and passion throughout this tournament.
In the hopes of seeing Messi lift the trophy, many flew halfway across the globe. The atmosphere for the final will be something that has never been seen before outside of a home ground. It's going to be pretty. If Argentina wins it will be emotional. If they don't, it will be very sad.
These fans will make their country proud once more. Their song "Muchachos", which tells the story of all the past failures but also of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, is one of the best.
It was a win for the referee.
The appointment of the Polish referee for the World Cup final is a victory for those officials who follow a sensible but authoritative approach to the job. The 41-year-old has already taken charge of both of the World Cup finals and issued just five yellow cards over the two games.
The final stages of the tournament were overshadowed by the criticism of the performances of the referees.
He missed out on Euro 2020 after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, which was caused by a bout of COVID-19. Since the start of last season, he has been back in action at the top level and has now been given the ultimate prize for any referee.
Sam is of the opinion that Lionel Messi will get his hands on the World Cup trophy after Argentina's victory.
Argentina 2-0 France: In reality, it's such an evenly matched game that you expect whoever scores first to perhaps add another on the counter and win. Why am I going with Argentina? Because they have Messi. And, for now, he's ahead of Mbappe. -- Marcotti
Argentina 1-2 France: I expect Les Bleus to crash the Messi World Cup fairytale party! They will concede most of the ball to Argentina, stay compact to frustrate them and then force them to play wide. They will watch the runs of Alvarez and double up on Messi. Then, it will be Mbappe's game and Argentina won't be able to stop him. -- Laurens
Argentina 1-3 France: Everyone outside of France (and maybe Brazil) wants to see Messi crown his career with the ultimate prize of the World Cup, but ultimately, France are a team of strength in every department and Argentina, beyond Messi, just aren't in the same league. So this won't be an occasion when romance wins, unfortunately. -- Ogden
Argentina 2-1 France: England could have beaten France; Morocco arguably should have beaten France. Argentina probably will beat France. -- Olley