Argentina vs. France final TV schedule:

Fans cheers as Argentina’s players celebrate a goal during their World Cup quarterfinal win over the Netherlands on Dec. 9.

(Jorge Saenz / Associated Press)

Where: Lusail Stadium

Time: 7 a.m. PST Sunday

TV: Fox, Telemundo, Universo, Peacock Premium

The buzz: France won the World Cup four years ago; Argentina hasn’t won in Lionel Messi’s lifetime. This will be the first World Cup final since 1978, when Argentina won, in which neither finalist is undefeated; France lost to Tunisia and Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia in group play.

But the history involved in this game goes far beyond the trivial. If France wins, it would become the first men’s team to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil in 1962 and coach Didier Deschamps, who played 90 minutes in France’s win over Brazil in the 1998 final, would become the first person to play on a World Cup winner and coach two champions. He would also join American Jill Ellis and Italian Vittorio Pozzo as the only coaches to win consecutive titles.

For Argentina, a win would finally give Messi the one prize he’s missing — a World Cup title. In fact, for all his greatness, Messi has won just one major international championship and that came in the 2008 Olympics.

The teams are evenly matched: France, ranked fourth in the world by FIFA, is 5-1-0 in the tournament, having outscored opponents 13-5, while No. 3 Argentina, which needed penalties to get by the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, is 4-1-1 with a 12-5 goal differential.

Paris Saint-Germain teammates Messi and Kylian Mbappe of France lead the tournament in scoring with five goals each while France’s Olivier Giroud and Argentina’s Julián Álvarez are tied for second with four apiece. Álvarez, 22, is bidding to become the first person born this century to win a World Cup scoring title.

France, which came to Qatar missing four potential starters to injury, then lost two more before halftime of the first game, has been hit by a virus over the last week with midfielder Adrien Rabiot and defender Dayot Upamecano missing the semifinal win over Morocco and froward Kingsley Coman’s participation in the final in doubt because of illness.

France could get some help if forward Karim Benzema, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner, is allowed to suit up. Benzema tore a muscle in his left thigh days before France’s opener but was never removed from the tournament roster. He has resumed training and was given permission by Real Madrid, his club team, to return to Qatar for the final, but as of Friday there was no word from the French camp as to whether Deschamps is considering such a move.

Argentina, meanwhile, is monitoring Messi, who also shares the tournament lead for assists with France’s Antoine Griezmann and two others, all with three apiece. The Argentine captain has been experiencing discomfort in his left hamstring but it would take more than that to keep him off the field for the final.

For the first time, U.S. officials will be part of the refereeing crew for a World Cup final, with Ismail Elfath chosen to be the fourth official and Kathryn Nesbitt, the first woman ever assigned to a men’s World Cup final, the reserve assistant referee.

Sunday is National Day in Qatar, the most important secular holiday in the country, commemorating the country’s unification in 1878.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *