fbpx Skip to main content

The World Cup reaches its climax on Sunday as Argentina and defending champions France go head to head in the final at Lusail Stadium.

That comes after Croatia finished third following a 2-1 win over Morocco in Saturday’s play-off.

Here, the PA news agency looks ahead to the tournament finale and at how the action unfolded on the penultimate day in Qatar.

Messi the ‘GOAT’

Lionel Messi (centre) in training with his Argentina team-mates on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA).
Messi (centre) in training with his Argentina team-mates on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA).

Lionel Messi is set to break the record for most World Cup appearances in Sunday’s showdown that could see him crown his glittering career with the ultimate prize.

And the 35-year-old Argentina skipper, who can move past Germany’s Lothar Matthaus to 26 appearances, was hailed as the “greatest player of all time” by his team-mate Emiliano Martinez as Lionel Scaloni’s men continued their preparations on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Martinez told a press conference: “People can say that the favourites are France, but we have the great advantage to have the greatest player of all time.

“We always like to hear that the opponent is the favourite because we don’t feel either superior or inferior to anyone. But, as I always say, we have the greatest player of all time. And with a good defence, we have many chances to reach our goal.”

Lloris expects France to be ready

France captain Hugo Lloris during a press conference on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA).
France captain Hugo Lloris during a press conference on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA).

Martinez’s counterpart, France captain Hugo Lloris, believes the “adrenaline and excitement” of a World Cup final will ensure all his team-mates are fit to play, despite illness having affected several members of Didier Deschamps’ squad.

Lloris said: “We are going to try and do our best in spite of the circumstances.

“I think thanks to the adrenaline and the excitement we will feel we will all be fit enough and ready to do whatever we can to win this last battle.”

Third place for Croatia

Mislav Orsic curls in the winner against Morocco (Hassan Ammar/AP).
Mislav Orsic curls in the winner against Morocco (Hassan Ammar/AP).

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia followed up their runners-up effort at the Russia 2018 World Cup with third place in Qatar as Mislav Orsic’s fine effort secured victory over the tournament’s surprise package Morocco at Khalifa International Stadium.

Orsic struck what would prove to be the winner in the 42nd minute after Josko Gvardiol’s seventh-minute header for Dalic’s side had been cancelled out two minutes later by Achraf Dari.

Croatia skipper Luka Modric after the game vowed to continue his international career, the 37-year-old saying that while he did not know whether he would play on until Euro 2024, he wanted to do so at least until next summer’s Nations League finals.

Morocco’s “fantastic achievement”

With his team having made history with their campaign, becoming the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final, Morocco boss Walid Regragui said: “We are now one of the top four teams in the world.

“If you told me we were going to finish that far and that Morocco would be number four in the world I would have accepted that straight away, there is nothing I would change.

“Tomorrow morning we will take stock and realise we have made a fantastic achievement here. Of course we are disappointed but when we wake up tomorrow we will realise what we have achieved, it was one step too far for us to win third place.”

Southgate to stay?

Gareth Southgate during England training in Qatar (Adam Davy/PA).
Gareth Southgate during England training in Qatar (Adam Davy/PA).

Meanwhile, England boss Gareth Southgate has decided to stay on in the job, according to reports.

The 52-year-old has been mulling over his future since his team’s quarter-final loss to France last weekend.

And, according to The Times and Daily Telegraph, Southgate is now ready to tell the Football Association that he will continue in the role he has held since 2016, a stint that has also included overseeing England reach the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and finish as runners-up at the Euros three years later.

Picture of the day

Modric (centre) celebrates with his Croatia team-mates (Adam Davy/PA).
Modric (centre) celebrates with his Croatia team-mates (Adam Davy/PA).

Tweet of the day

Up next

Argentina v France, final (Sunday 3pm, BBC One/ITV1)