Lionel Messi will break the record for most World Cup match appearances in Sunday’s final against France after being named in Argentina’s starting XI.
Messi’s outing in the semi-final win over Croatia took his World Cup games tally to 25, level with Lothar Matthaus.
But he was unsurprisingly named among the starters for Sunday’s showpiece at Lusail Stadium, with Messi aiming to win the World Cup for the first time.
Another lesser record is within his grasp as well, as Messi will be become the first player to score in the group stage, last 16, quarter-final, semi-final and final in a single edition of the tournament if he nets against Les Bleus.
26 – Lionel Messi is set to become the all-time record holder for most games played at the World Cup (26). Enduring. pic.twitter.com/WmDnXp6h6n
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2022
That would also ensure he becomes the first player (since 1966) to record 20 goal involvements in World Cup tournaments, as he goes into the game with 19 (11 goals, eight assists).
Messi and nine others retain their places in the team from the semi-final, with the only change seeing Angel Di Maria come in for Leandro Paredes.
France’s major concern ahead of the final had been the virus being spread around their camp.
However, they appear to have come through the worst of it, with everyone available for selection.
As such, Didier Deschamps reverts to his preferred starting XI, with Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot returning to the line-up – the former was only fit enough for a bench role against Morocco, while the latter missed out entirely.
There had been reports of additional players contracting the illness during the week, while Aurelien Tchouameni, Theo Hernandez and Olivier Giroud were said to be struggling with injuries.
But all were deemed fit enough to start as France aim to become the first European nation since Italy in 1938 – and just the third country ever – to retain their World Cup crown.
France XI: Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud.
Argentina XI: Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Di Maria, De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Messi, Alvarez.
Originally Posted By Punch Sports Extra