After a month of thrills and spills in the Middle East, when the football was finally left to do the talking following all the mass controversy surrounding the host nation in the build-up to the tournament, the stage is finally set for the greatest show on earth — the FIFA World Cup final.
Billions of people from all four corners of the globe — around half the population of the world, in fact, if the figures from 2018 are anything to go by — will be zoning in on Qatar and watching with bated breath as the 90 minutes (plus the potential of extra-time and penalties) of exhilarating action unfolds in front of our eyes in Doha.
So, as the excitement begins to build for the World Cup final, we have put together this quick guide of everything you need to know before everyone grinds to a halt.
When is the World Cup final?
The World Cup final will take place on Sunday, 18 December — kicking off at 15:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). That means it will be an 18:00 start in Qatar, allowing the soaring temperatures in the Middle East at this time of the year to drop a bit.
Where is the World Cup final taking place?
Around 20km north of central Doha, the World Cup final will take place at the Lusail Stadium (pictured above).
It will be the 10th match the grand 80,000-seater venue, which was designed to display characteristics of the Arab world, will hold at this year’s tournament — others include games that upset the World Cup bets markets, like Argentina losing to Saudi Arabia, Cameroon beating Brazil as well as Portugal’s 6-1 thrashing over European counterparts Switzerland in the round of 16.
According to FIFA, the Lusail Stadium could be turned into ‘affordable housing units, shops, food outlets, health clinics and even a school’ upon the conclusion of the World Cup.
Who is participating in the World Cup final?
The one you’ve all been waiting for; the World Cup final will be played out between Argentina and France — with Les Bleus the favorite if you’re keen for a bet on Argentina v France.
How did each team make it to the World Cup final?
Lionel Scaloni’s men were shortened to the second favorites behind Brazil pre-tournament after going on a 36-game unbeaten streak. However, many questioned if they were the real deal after being beaten by Saudi Arabia in one of the World Cup’s greatest upsets.
La Albiceleste bounced back, however, beating both Mexico and Poland by two goals to nil to secure their place in the knockout rounds. Argentina couldn’t have asked for a better round-of-16 opponent than Australia, but they still didn’t look their best against the Socceroos — holding on for a 2-1 win in the end.
Against the Netherlands in the quarters, La Albiceleste squandered a two-goal lead late on, and the momentum looked to be in the Dutch’s favor. But Argentina ultimately won on penalties in what was nothing short of a bitter affair.
Hoping for back-to-back World Cup final appearances after they were beaten by France four years ago (4-2), Argentina ended Croatia’s hopes of going one better this year with a commanding 3-0 win thanks to goals from Messi and Alvarez (x2) at the Lusail on December 13.
France is on the hunt for the chance to become the first nation to win successive World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962, respectively. Many wrote off Les Bleus due to their extensive injury list, but they have proven everyone wrong thus far — beating Australia (4-1) and Denmark (2-1) to top their group with a game to spare, which ended in defeat to Tunisia as Deschamps rotated his squad.
Poland was next for the French, and Kylian Mbappe inspired his teammates to a 3-1 win over Robert Lewandowski and company — scoring two fantastic goals late on to put the game out of Poland’s reach before the aforementioned Lewandowski scored a late consolation penalty.
Against England in the quarter-finals, the Three Lions were arguably the better team on the night. But that matters for very little now as Les Bleus were able to dig deeper and grind out a 2-1 win thanks to the heroics of Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud.
Having already knocked out Spain and Portugal in the round of 16 and quarters, underdogs Morocco were looking for their biggest upset yet in the semi-finals. However, France proved too good for the Atlas Lions at Al Bayt Stadium — winning 2-0.