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It's Messi vs Mbappe: Stage set for blockbuster World Cup 2022 final as France set up clash against Argentina

France registered a 2-0 win against Morocco in the Qatar World Cup 2022 semi-finals to set up a final clash against Argentina on Sunday, December 18. While the defending champions' fans were delighted, the Atlas Lions won the hearts of football enthusiasts.

football Messi vs Mbappe Stage set for Qatar World Cup 2022 final as France see off Morocco to set up clash against Argentina snt
First Published Dec 15, 2022, 2:31 AM IST

After almost three weeks of gruelling football competition, the stage is finally set for an Argentina vs France clash at the grand finale of the Qatar World Cup 2022. The defending champions secured their place in the finals after defeating Morocco 2-0 in Doha's Al Bayt Stadium, bringing the dream run of the Atlas Lions to a crashing end. 

Also read: 'One last dance': Messi fans gear up for Argentina legend's last World Cup game at Qatar 2022 final

Goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani ensured Les Bleus secured their place in the finals on Sunday, December 18, where they will face Lionel Messi and Co. for the coveted trophy. Meanwhile, Morocco, who had a stellar run this campaign, will face Croatia for the third spot on Saturday.

Morocco suffered an early setback when Nayef Aguerd, who was questionable for fitness, was forced to withdraw after aggravating his injury in the warm-up. As soon as their new defence failed to deal with a loose ball in the area, Theo Hernández popped up at the back post and scored the opening goal for France in a spectacular fashion.

After 10 minutes, Morocco replied exceptionally well, as Azzedine Ounahi made a beautiful diving save from Hugo Lloris when he tried his luck from a distance. However, the score might have easily been worse when Olivier Giroud thundered a fierce shot on goal, with Bono being saved by his post.

When Romain Sass, another significant injury concern before kickoff, took a chance that didn't pay off, he was forced to leave the game after 20 minutes due to an inability to continue.

In a back-and-forth battle, Giroud missed wide while unmarked in the middle of the area after Morocco had a significant penalty waved away, and Sofiane Boufal was unexpectedly punished for a foul in the area.

Also read: Indian fans await Argentina's Messi to have his '2011 Tendulkar moment' at Qatar World Cup 2022 final

Moments before the interval, the Atlas Lions came so close to a dramatic equaliser, but Lloris saved them with a spectacular save on Jawid El Yamiq's fantastic overhead kick attempt, capping up an outstanding first half for both teams.

As Morocco dominated play in their pursuit of the elusive equaliser, they were heartbreakingly denied once more shortly after halftime when Ibrahima Konaté pulled off a last-ditch six-yard box block to prevent them from scoring.

With 10 minutes left, France unexpectedly increased their lead when Randal Kolo Muani, who had just entered the game, scored with his first touch at the back post, bringing Morocco's dream run at the showpiece tournament to a bitter end.

Sunday's final will see Argentinian legend Lionel Messi go head to head against his Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) teammate Kylian Mbappe. The 35-year-old icon will hope to clinch the trophy that has eluded him in his illustrious career, while the Frenchman will hope to bag his second consecutive World Cup win.

Football enthusiasts anticipate a high-octane grand finale when Argentina and France face each other. "The GOAT of our generation vs the guy looking to become the GOAT of the new one. Messi vs Mbappé. Argentina vs. France. Both teams looking for their third star. Hopefully it's a five game banger. Ah no, it doesn't apply here haha #FIFAWorldCup," noted one fan on Twitter.

Another added, "Having a differential player on your team has been the key to this World Cup. On Sunday, the best teams in the tournament, Argentina and France, or what is the same, Messi vs Mbappé. historic duel."

Also read: Roberto Cejas, who shouldered Maradona after Argentina won 1986 World Cup, wants to lift Messi in Qatar

Here's a look at how World Cup 2022 fans reacted:

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