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Sunday Cannon Fodder: World Cup Final

Illustration: Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

It’s here! Sixty-two matches, well, technically sixty-three, but I don’t count the third place match, and it all comes down to Argentina vs. France in the World Cup Final. Both are seeking their third title, which would move them into sole possession of 4th most all-time. Right now, the pair are even with Uruguay with two wins apiece.

The headline is Leo Messi vs. Kylian Mbappe. Messi, 35, is seeking the capstone for his illustrious career. A World Cup win probably cements him as the greatest footballer of all-time. I tend to think that he already is, but those who put stock in team accolades for evaluating individual players might disagree. Despite his prodigious talent, Messi has always lagged behind Diego Maradona in the eyes of their countrymen because the latter brought home the World Cup. A win would change that.

Mbappe, 23 (!!!), is looking to lead France to a second consecutive World Cup win, a feat not accomplished since a 17-yeard old Pelé led Brazil to back-to-back wins in 1958 and 1962, and for good measure, a third in 1970. Only 20 players in World Cup history have won twice, so Mbappe winning two before his 24th birthday would be quite the accomplishment. He’s the best player in the world right now, and when all is said and done, might be in the conversation for greatest ever.

I think Argentina are going to win. It just feels like Messi is going to do the thing. The narrative power is too strong. Given my French heritage, I’d be more than happy if France won, too. A France win would make William Saliba the seventh Arsenal player to win the World Cup (Petit and Vieira in ‘98, Fabregas in ‘10, Mertesacker, Ozil, and Podolski in ‘14).

Who ya got?