By Aldwyn McGill
Argentina is set to play defending champions France in the final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022; although they won their semi-final matches against Croatia and Morocco in different fashions, they both took early leads which they never relinquished.
From my vantage point it can be said that the semi-finals games were anticlimactic since the underdog teams finally showed their vulnerabilities as it relates to bench strength, and offensive capabilities. Goals win matches, and Argentina and France have shown that offensive output will not be a concern since the finalists have players in the running for the Golden Boot award.
It was obvious that after playing several matches that went into overtime with penalty kicks as tie breakers, mental exhaustion and fatigue would have been a huge factor, especially for the underdog teams, which were over achieving by their standards. Therefore, in the semi-finals it was no surprized that the favoured teams won rather comfortably.
The first semi-final between Argentina and Croatia was anti climatic because it turned out to be the Lionel Messi show and one of the best performances. The great Argentinian so far has had his world cup tournament. Messi contributed a goal from the penalty spot and an assist that allowed Argentina to cruise to an easy 3-0 victory.
Croatia had reached the semi-final by outlasting Brazil on penalty kicks after overtime. However, they were not equipped for repeat a performance not with a record book performance from Lionel Messi.
France on the other hand seemed to have had the easier matchup, but they were up against a Morocco team that was the sentimental favourite of the tournament. Morocco was the first African country to reach the semi -final of a FIFA World Cup.
The France-Morocco matchup was a game that everyone wanted to be a part of. As the underdogs, Morocco had never trailed in the tournament and had not allowed a goal (except an own goal against Canada).
However, against France they allowed one of the earliest goals in the history of the world cup and may have blown their chances of reaching the finals. It allowed France to sit back with a lead and play a more tactical match that showed their supremacy in short intervals. Morocco continued in search of an equalizer and gave up a second goal for the 2-0 loss.
Morocco will face Croatia on Saturday in the match for third place, while I suspect the tantalizing final between Argentina and France at Lusail stadium will come down to the wire and may force overtime. However, it is very likely that all bets will be off if either of the number 10s in Kylian Mbappe of France or Lionel Messi gets hot and take over the game.