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The 2022 World Cup will culminate on Sunday (10am EST) with the final between France and Argentina. The defending champions from France are slightly favored over Lionel Messi and Argentina, who are aiming for their first World Cup since 1986.
France vs Argentina Odds
The odds for the 2022 World Cup final could hardly be tighter. Argentina is a slight favorite to win the trophy at FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars, ranging from -110 to -115. France are modest underdogs at odds of -108 to -105.
FanDuel’s three-way moneyline odds, which only consider the first 90 minutes, have Argentina at +170, France at +180 and the tie at +200.
The over/under of 2.5 favors the under (+126o/-156u). Predictably, the alternating totals of 1.5 (-245o/+196u) and 3.5 (+340o/-460u) make a goalless game or a game with one goal much more likely than a game with four (or more) gates
Messi’s date with Destiny?
Preparation for the final deservedly focuses on 35-year-old Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of his generation. For all of his individual awards (including a record-breaking seven Ballon d’Or awards), Messi has long struggled to lead Argentina to glory. Until last year, Argentina was in second place Copa America world champion three times and once during his tenure without winning a championship.
That narrative was buried in 2021 copa america, when Messi led Argentina to their first title since 1993, tying the tournament lead in goals. Now, at what will likely be his last World Cup, he has the chance to add the ultimate trophy to his resume.
Expectations for Messi ahead of the tournament were lower. After an average of 35.5 goals per league In the 2011-2021 season, Messi had registered just 13 league 1 goals since joining Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the 2021 season, it seems his age is finally showing.
But he turned back the clock in Qatar. He has scored five of his team’s 12 goals in the tournament and while three of those came from penalties, he assisted three others and was generally the catalyst behind Argentina’s forward momentum. His combination play with young Man City forward Julian Alvarez was great.
Unlike in the tournament’s past during the Messi era, Argentina’s defense, meanwhile, has been superb, led by Nicolas Otamendi, who has played all 570 minutes of the tournament to date. According to fbref.com, Argentina have given up just 2.4 expected goals conceded (0.4 expected goals conceded per game) in their six games and kept three clean sheets (against Mexico and Poland in the group stage and Croatia in the semifinals).
Without 20 sloppy minutes against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals – when they conceded two goals after keeping their opponent without a shot on target for the first 80 minutes – Argentina are likely going into this final as the bigger favorites.
Can you deny France?
This Sunday, France have the opportunity to do what no team has been able to do since Brazil 1962: become world champions.
To do this, France not only have to face Messi, but also overcome the absence of several key players. Midfielders Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante, centre-backs Presnel Kimpembe and strikers Christopher Nkunku and Karim Benzema (reigning Ballon d’Or winner) were all unable to contribute to France’s replay. If you put those five players in the same seat, you’re already halfway to a team capable of winning the tournament.
But France’s amazing depth has endured Les Bleus more than afloat in Qatar. With Kylian Mbappe (five goals) and Olivier Giroud (four goals) leading the attack and Antoine Griezmann (three assists) and Ousmane Dembélé (two assists) in midfield, the French attack looks as strong as ever. The only game in which France did not report at least there were two goals in the last game of the group stage against Tunisia (lost 1-0) when coach Didier Deschamps left his stars on the bench for most of the game with group victory already assured.
The quarter-final game against England left a lot to be desired. Expected goals skewed heavily towards England (2.4 v 0.9) but France secured an early lead and were immediately in front again after England equalized. Finding fault with France’s performance so far is an arduous task.
France vs. Argentina Prediction
There is no doubt that history favors France. Many in their starting XI already have a World Cup to their credit, while Argentina are still struggling to overcome their reputation for failing on the big stage. But based on the way teams have played in Qatar so far, there’s little doubt Argentina should be favourites.
Once thought to be Lionel Messi’s one-man show, the Argentina side are full of young talent and veteran leaders at all three levels, and the cohesion they showed in Qatar is unrivaled.
France are equally talented up front and in midfield, but not at the back. The tip of Argentina’s javelin should have a little easier time getting through the French back and over the course of 90 minutes (or possibly 120) that will make all the difference.
Pick: Argentina lift the trophy (-110 on FanDuel)
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