World Cup 2022: What to watch for and our predictions for Argentina vs. France

Sunday’s 2022 World Cup Final between France and Argentina could be a great one.

It’s indisputable that these teams have been two of the best all tournament, and it looks set to be an extremely close final. There’s no favorite to win at BetMGM. That speaks to the strength of both teams and their star power. Any casual bettors who could be attracted to Lionel Messi and Argentina can also be swayed by France and Kylian Mbappe.

Here are our predictions for the World Cup Final, along with what we’ll be watching on Sunday.

Argentina vs. France (over/under 2.5 goals)

10 a.m. ET, FOX

  • Argentina to win in regulation (+180)

  • Argentina to win in regulation, extra time or PKs (-110)

  • France to win in regulation (+180)

  • France to win in regulation, extra time or PKs (-110)

  • Regulation tie (+195)

What we're watching for

Nick Bromberg: The battle of the fullbacks could be fascinating. Argentina has done well in the knockout rounds with fullbacks Nahuel Molina and Marcos Acuna getting forward. France’s Theo Hernandez isn’t afraid to push up the field, either, and Jules Kounde is more of a centerback than a true right back. While each team’s fullbacks might be instructed to stay back a bit more in this game, given each team’s attacking threats on the wings, it’s easy to envision space for either team on the counter-attack. Whoever does a better job of closing down the space on the sidelines near the back line will have a significant advantage in this game.

Henry Bushnell: France’s midfield got overrun Wednesday, when Morocco flipped from a 5-4-1 (with two central midfielders) to a 4-3-3 midway through the first half. Argentina, meanwhile, played with essentially four central midfielders in a narrow diamond against Croatia. That numerical mismatch — France plays with two-and-a-half midfielders, Antoine Griezmann being the half — isn’t inherently problematic for Les Bleus, but it will be with Lionel Messi on the field. He’s a decent player, in case you hadn’t heard, and he likes to drop into midfield to get on the ball. I’m interested to see how France deals with him and the three or four other players Argentina throws into the midfield mixer. Will Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot be able to cope? Or will Didier Deschamps deviate from the 4-2-3-1 setup that has been good to him all tournament?

Armando Botello II: Will France’s string of bad luck continue? First, it was injuries that forced coach Didier Deschamps to come up with a Plan B heading into the tournament. Now it’s a virus making its way through the French camp ahead of Sunday’s final. Starters Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano already missed Wednesday’s semifinal — though they were hardly missed — due to “flu-like symptoms.” On Friday, it was announced that Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate have also come down with the sickness, which means they could be missing from Sunday’s lineup. But France is a deep, well-balanced squad, and Deschamps has handled missing pieces incredibly well. The defending champs are built to do exactly that, and whether or not they are missing some players, they have more than enough plans of attack to make Argentina suffer.

Andy Deossa: Everyone not named Mbappé or Messi. They’ll steal the headlines, obviously, but what happens around them will likely decide the game. Neither of the two can do it on their own, especially the latter. That has already been proven. If you look at their matchup in the 2018 World Cup, it was N’Golo Kanté being an absolute menace to Messi. He’s not here this time, so who in that French midfield will step up? And can the Argentina defense keep up with the speed they're about to face?

Joey Gulino: Aurelien Tchouaméni, Hugo Lloris and everyone between them. France have conceded in every match except the semifinal, and even that took some ridiculously good, last-ditch defending on multiple occasions. That’s a problem when Lionel Messi and Argentina figure to pry France out of Didier Deschamps’ preferred pragmatism. Deschamps said Friday that marking Messi will be “difficult” and indicated it will be a team effort, and that starts with Tchouaméni, who will have to temper his talent and desire for pushing play forward. If Dayot Upamecano isn’t fully healthy, France’s job gets harder. Even if he is, dispelling Argentina’s attack — or at least limiting it enough so France’s own world-class forwards can handle the rest — is a white-knuckle ask in the best of circumstances.

Cody Brunner: I’m interested to see just how much fatigue plays a factor for France due to the quick turnaround and the reports of a bug/virus that could knock out several key defenders. This Argentina attack has found just about every way to score, so the French backline will have to be exceedingly sharp.

Will Lionel Messi or Kylian Mbappe be celebrating with the World Cup on Sunday? (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA,PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Will Lionel Messi or Kylian Mbappe be celebrating with the World Cup on Sunday? (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA,PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) (ALFREDO ESTRELLA via Getty Images)

Our favorite prop bets

Nick Bromberg: France’s first shutout of the tournament came in the semifinals against Morocco, while Argentina gave up multiple goals to both Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands. Each team has the best attacking talent that either has faced so far this tournament, so I really like both teams to score in regulation at +100. Even if both France and Argentina try to play as defensively as possible, there will be opportunities for both teams. And they’re great enough to take advantage.

Henry Bushnell: Lionel Messi has scored the first goal in four of Argentina’s six games here. I’ll take Messi to score first again at +350.

Armando Botello II: Going off Nick’s favorite prop bet, I like Any Team to Come from Behind and Win at +700.

Andy Deossa: Olivier Giroud has scored four goals in Qatar. If France is going to win, they’ll need him to be a factor. I like him to net the opener

Joey Gulino: Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi each to score anytime, +525. I was only vaguely aware one-game parlays even existed, but they do with BetMGM, and backing this tournament’s co-Golden Boot leaders like this feels too tempting to pass up.

Cody Brunner: I’m calling my shot. A worn-down France group wilts in extra time, and Lionel Messi wins it for Argentina. The +1000 odds make it worth a go. Plus, it’d be karmic gold eight years after Argentina fell to Germany in the same fashion.

The FIFA World Cup trophy will be awarded on Sunday in Qatar. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The FIFA World Cup trophy will be awarded on Sunday in Qatar. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Our match predictions

Nick Bromberg: I think this game has a great chance of heading into extra time. A regulation tie at +200 is tempting. It’s far too easy to envision Messi capping this run through the World Cup with the game-winning goal. And an Mbappe winner would also be riveting, as he stakes his claim to legendary status within the world of soccer at the age of 23. Even though France has proven me wrong this tournament, I should probably stick with my pre-tournament prediction that the winner of a hypothetical Argentina-Brazil semifinal would lift the World Cup. I’ll go with Messi setting up Lautaro Martinez in extra time for a 2-1 win.

Henry Bushnell: Argentina on penalties.

Armando Botello II: France to win in regular time at +180.

Andy Deossa: France wins 3-1. Repeating as World Cup champion doesn’t happen often. But this French side has not only been convincing (even when not playing at their best); they also have the best player in the world on their roster. And don’t forget that they’re doing it while missing some key players due to injury. It seems like it’s destiny for Lionel Messi to finally pull this off, but Les Bleus have shown impressive poise this tournament, and I’m going to lean on that. Which means, congrats to Messi and Argentina.

Joey Gulino: You can take a magnifying glass to tactics and matchups until they burn off the page, or tell you what you want, or both. I know this: Before France pelted Croatia four and a half years ago, World Cup finals this century were largely cagey affairs never decided earlier than midway through the second half. I also think France has been flirting with calamity for 180 knockout stage minutes now. That might mean they’re due for a more complete performance Sunday, but saying so also shreds Lionel Messi and his compatriots’ agency in this. Argentina are playing for something seismic; France are playing for something secondary. Somewhere in all that lie the finest of margins. Argentina 2-1.

Cody Brunner: I picked Argentina before the tournament, and I’m sticking with La Albiceleste (though I would’ve been better served betting them to win it all after their stunning opener against Saudi Arabia). Messi gets his crowning moment on the world’s grandest stage, scoring in extra time to break a deadlock in a 2-1 win.