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Argentina to take on World Cup holders France in Sunday's final

Lionel Messi's Argentina take on holders France in the World Cup final on Sunday and the well-matched rivals should put on a great show. 

The betting suggests it will be a tight contest with France 7/4 and Argentina 9/5 in the Full Time Result betting while the draw is priced at 2/1, but it is unlikely to be a dull game with so much attacking talent on the pitch.

What: Argentina v France, World Cup final
Where: Lusail Stadium, Qatar
When: 15:00, Sunday 18th December
How to watch: Live on BBC One and ITV
Odds: Argentina 9/5, France 7/4, Draw 2/1

World champions peaking after difficult build-up

France beat Argentina 4-3 in a thrilling last-16 tie at the 2018 World Cup, where Les Bleus went on to lift the trophy after a 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final.

Didier Deschamps' side did not enjoy a smooth build-up to their title defence as forwards Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku were ruled out through injury shortly before the start of the tournament, joining World Cup-winning midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante on the sidelines.

A disappointing 2022/23 Nations League campaign, in which France took just one point from four games against Denmark and Croatia, failed to boost confidence in the camp and they found themselves 1-0 down to Australia inside the first nine minutes of their Group D opener.

Les Bleus roared back to win 4-1 against the Socceroos before a Kylian Mbappe brace gave them a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Danes.

With qualification assured, a second-string side lost 1-0 to Tunisia in their final group game but they breezed past Poland 3-1 in the last 16 thanks to a couple of superb individual goals from Mbappe.

France have had to dig deep in the last two rounds, however, beating England 2-1 in the quarter-finals, when Harry Kane missed a late penalty for the Three Lions, and seeing off Morocco 2-0 in the semis.

That game featured France's first clean sheet of the tournament despite a defensive reshuffle which saw Liverpool centre-back Ibrahima Konate replace Dayot Upamecano, but they can expect a tough test against an Argentina side inspired by Mbappe's Paris Saint-Germain teammate Messi.

Both teams have scored in five of France's last six wins at the World Cup finals so they are well worth considering at 11/2 in the Match Result/Both Teams To Score market given the quality and variety of the world champions' attacking unit.

Argentina impressive after shock Saudi setback 

While France endured a troubled lead-up to the World Cup, Argentina's preparation could hardly have gone better. They arrived in Qatar on a 36-match unbeaten run, including victories over Brazil in last year's Copa America final and European champions Italy, who they overcame 3-0 in the Finalissima at Wembley in June.

La Albiceleste were the big movers in the outright betting but they suffered a remarkable early setback as 22/1 shots Saudi Arabia came from a goal down to beat them 2-1 in their Group C opener.

Lionel Scaloni's side responded well, beating Poland and Mexico 2-0 in their next two group matches before a 2-1 last-16 win over Australia.

Argentina struggled to kill off the game against the Socceroos and worse was to come in the quarter-final against the Netherlands. A brilliant pass from Messi set up Nahuel Molina to score the opening goal before the PSG star converted a 73rd-minute penalty, seemingly sealing his side's place in the last four.

However, Argentina's defence went to pieces as the Dutch adopted a route-one approach and former Burnley striker Wout Weghorst scored two late goals to take the game to extra-time before Scaloni's men progressed on penalties.

The semi-final against Croatia was far more straightforward once Messi had again scored from the penalty spot, his third successful spot-kick out of four in normal time at the tournament, and Manchester City youngster Julian Alvarez scored twice to complete a 3-0 win over the 2018 runners-up.

Argentina are fast starters under Scaloni, scoring the opening goal of the game in 30 of their last 32 internationals, and they are 6/5 to be the First Team to Score in the final although France, 20/21 to break the deadlock, took a 17th-minute lead against England and scored in the fifth minute against Morocco.

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Veteran Giroud could upstage Messi and Mbappe

As well as the World Cup itself, the top-goalscorer and Golden Ball markets also pit Argentina against France with Messi and Mbappe level on five goals, one ahead of Alvarez and French veteran Olivier Giroud.

Messi is 4/1 to be First Goalscorer on Sunday and Mbappe, who failed to find the net in France's quarter-final and semi-final wins, is 5/1, but Giroud appeals at 13/2 given the way Argentina struggled against towering Dutch striker Weghorst.

Benzema's injury gave Giroud the opportunity to lead the line again for Les Bleus and he has extended his excellent international record to 53 goals in 119 caps, surpassing Thierry Henry's total of 51 goals for France.

With Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and the in-form Antoine Griezmann behind him, Giroud is guaranteed top-class service and he is 3/1 in the Anytime Goalscorer betting.

Forwards can fire French to back-to-back World Cups 

France have won nine of their last 10 matches at World Cup finals in normal time but Argentina needed a shootout to get past the Netherlands in the last eight and it is 8/1 in the Method of Victory market that Argentina win on penalties again.

While La Albiceleste have been heavily reliant on Messi's magic, France's settled attacking unit has pace, power, trickery, aerial threat and the guile of Griezmann; and that could give them the edge in a compelling final.

No team has successfully defended the World Cup since Brazil in 1962 but Deschamps' side have come through difficult ties against England and Morocco and have the belief to complete the job. 

France beat England and Denmark 2-1 on their way to the final and that scoreline appeals at 11/1 in the Correct Score market.

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