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Argentina, France finale divides locals

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Local football analysts have predicted a tough World Cup final as Argentina meet France at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar.

Despite disturbing news from France that some players including Dayot Upamecano, Adrien Rabiot, Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate were self-isolating after they caught colds, local analysts feel both sides have equal chances of winning the cup.

Former Flames midfielder Chancy Gondwe said Argentina would be difficult to stop. “My wish is to see France defend the cup but I think Argentina are going to win it under the guidance of Lionel Messi who is desperately looking for the cup,” he said.

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However, another former Flames midfielder Sherry Msuku said France were favourites to defend the cup despite the virus attack.

“France have a youthful and hungry squad. Even the talk is on Messi having the desire to win it but I think France will still claim it,” he said.

National Football Coaches Association Chairperson Aubrey Nankhuni said it was a tricky affair.

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“To me this encounter is 50-50 and it can go either way. Messi and Argentina want it more but then France are also determined to defend the cup. The best team on the day will win,” he said.

Meanwhile, France manager Didier Deschamps told BBC Sport yesterday that it does not bother him “many people” want Argentina and Lionel Messi to lift the World Cup when they meet this evening.

Deschamps, who is hoping that forwards Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappé will be available for selection, is aiming to become just the second manager to win successive World Cups after Les Bleus’ triumph in 2018.

He also told the publication that there was no update on a virus in the French camp, with several players confined to their hotel rooms.

“We are trying to live with it, without going too far and getting carried away, but doing what is necessary,” he told BBC Sport.

Messi is now Argentina’s all-time top goalscorer in World Cups, and his fifth tournament is his best.

He’s top of the goals and assists charts, and has dribbled and created more chances than anyone else.

Now in his second final, he will beat German Lothar Matthaus’ tournament appearance record when he plays his 26th and last World Cup match against France.

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