Messi, Mbappe: Who made it to Sportsmail’s joint France and Argentina squad ahead of the World Cup final?

For most managers, having talented strikers of the caliber of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi will always be just a dream (unless you get the PSG job).

But imagine having not only these two at your disposal, but all the teams of world title holders and defending South American champions.

With France and Argentina preparing to face the World Cup final in Qatar on Sunday and the opportunity to write themselves in the history books, France coach Didier Deschamps and Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni have several difficult choices in terms of choosing the starting line-up.

and under, sportsmailMax Mathews sets his joint France-Argentina squad ahead of the tournament final this weekend.

France, led by Kylian Mbappe, and Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, battle it out for the World Cup final on Sunday

Paris Saint-Germain's teammates will go head-to-head, but what if you could pick the two on the same team?

Paris Saint-Germain’s teammates will go head-to-head, but what if you could pick the two on the same team?

Below, Sportsmail's Max Mathews outlines his joint France-Argentina squad ahead of the final

Below, Sportsmail’s Max Mathews outlines his joint France-Argentina squad ahead of the final

Line-up (4-3-1-2)

Goalkeeper – Hugo Lloris

The goalkeeping position is a close call.

Argentine Emiliano Martinez has come a long way since his one-match emergency loan at League Two at Oxford United 11 years ago and is a penalty-saving specialist who leads from the back in terms of his fearless, combative style.

But Lloris is highly experienced at the highest level, leading his team to World Cup victory in 2018, and some pressured England’s Harry Kane to miss the second penalty in the quarter-final win by heading in the right direction.

Right back – Nahuel Molina

Amid all the hype over the (correct) best pass in the World Cup, Lionel Messi’s stunning reverse pass at the start of the quarter-final opener’s four goals against the Netherlands, it’s easy to forget the top scorer.

But Nahuel Molina was quietly effective for Scaloni, switching between a back four and a back five, neutralizing opposition threats – such as Ivan Perisic in the semi-final – and even getting on the end of Messi’s fine pass to calmly end the game.

He’s also a more natural right-back than the France player filling in there – one of the defenders to be named in that squad, below.

Versatile combative defender Nahuel Molina (R) has been named the right wingback position in our writer's squad

Versatile combative defender Nahuel Molina (R) has been named the right wingback position in our writer’s squad

Center back – Christian Romero

Watching Romero is always entertaining. Not always a good thing, for a centre-back, as he constantly provides fans with a rush of emotion. But the 24-year-old enjoyed a resurgence after a very disappointing opening game in the country.

Starting shortly after recovering from injury, he surprised his team in a match that ended 2-1 against Saudi Arabia – the The shock of the entire competition – and the Spurs star was arguably wrong on both goals.

He was replaced an hour earlier by Lisandro Martinez and many felt his championship was over. not like that. How well he restrains Mbappe and striker Olivier Giroud on Sunday could decide the final.

Center back – Jules Conde

A surprising inclusion of Bayern Munich player Benjamin Pavard in the right-back position so far in the World Cup Finals, and perhaps a surprising inclusion in the center of defense in this team as well.

But Nicolas Otamendi, 34, is prone to reckless challenges and three France defenders, Raphael Varane, Ibrahima Konate and Dayo Uppicano, have fallen ill.

The photos show the three – and in fact all of the players with virus – returned to training on the eve of the final, meaning they will be in contention to play on Sunday.

But it’s not guaranteed, and Deschamps may decide to switch the well-fitting Jules Conde into centre-back to fill a gap in his defence. With that in mind, the versatile Barcelona defender gets the nod next to Romero.

Amid doubts about the fitness of three France defenders, Jules Conde was selected in the centre-half position

Amid doubts about the fitness of three France defenders, Jules Conde was selected in the centre-half position

Left back – Theo Hernandez

The depth of the French team borders on ridiculous. Didier Deschamps could reasonably have built a competitive World Cup squad made up of the players he left outside the 26-man squad, and that depth proved in the opener.

A wonderfully talented left-back named Hernandez was ruled out of the tournament with a severe knee injury 13 minutes into the opening game of the tournament? No problem, the coach can call up… another wonderfully talented left-back named Hernandez.

Stepping in seamlessly for his brother Lucas, Theo scored a wonderful offhand acrobatic effort to open the scoring in the semi-final against Morocco, linking up nicely with Mbappe.

Defensive midfield – Aurelien Tchoameni

It took a lot to beat England’s Declan Rice in the quarter-finals, but Real Madrid’s Aurelien Tchoameni made it through.

It tells how little France misses world-class injured players like N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, the engine room pair who captained their World Cup-winning side in 2018, and much of that is down to the defensive midfielder.

Whoever plays alongside him in midfield, perhaps Youssouf Fofana, perhaps Adrien Rabiot, they know they will have Tchoameni’s protection alongside and behind them. The future Los Blancos midfield, along with Wizkid’s Eduardo Camavinga.

Midfield – Rodrigo DePaul

Calling Rodrigo De Paul “Lionel Messi’s protector” does him a disservice. Sure, he’s looking for the little wizard, which he is will He fights you (without kicking you out) if you offend a teammate.

But he is a wonderfully gifted playmaker who can play both sides of the game – silk and steel – with equal ease and has the tactical understanding and awareness to fill different roles in midfield.

For example, if that side wanted to move into a 4-4-2 formation, De Paul could easily move to the nominal right side of midfield, while leaving Griezmann. You want to be in the trenches of football with a player like De Paul.

Midfield – Enzo Fernandez

Of course, there are plenty of talented options to play in midfield for our team. Camavinga, Rabiot, Leandro Paredes, and Alexis McAlister. But are any of them as fun as Enzo Fernandez?

Targeted by the Premier League side, and possibly the next star to leave Benfica in a multi-million dollar deal, the 21-year-old has just nine caps and just 13 league appearances in Europe.

His namesake is Enzo Francescoli (one of Zinedine Zidane’s idols as a child, along with Michel Platini) and if he can emulate a third of those player’s careers, he’ll be a player. Watch this kid.

Argentine duo Enzo Fernandez (left) and Rodrigo de Paul have been selected as midfielders

Argentine duo Enzo Fernandez (left) and Rodrigo de Paul have been selected as midfielders

Attacking midfield – Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann is often underestimated at the top level. They say he’s never won La Liga. He didn’t really do that at Barcelona. Managers do not know what is the best position for him. he is They added that he did not know what was the best site for him. ignore them.

Griezmann reminds us a bit of Kai Havertz, another agile attacking midfielder who strolls, seemingly aimlessly, across the field before conjuring up a game-changing piece of stunning skill.

Figure A: Cross to the Giro against England. Exhibit B: Mbappe’s cross against Denmark. There are many other examples. You wouldn’t play 73 consecutive World Champions games unless you had something about you.

Attacker – Lionel Messi

Probably the two least controversial decisions of the entire team, the forwards. Sure, I could do without the midfielder and make Olivier Giroud a figurehead instead, with Messi on the right and Mbappe on the left, interjecting their stronger side.

But Messi can play as a striker in two teams, as was the case with Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez. He can do anything anywhere. Put aside all his career achievements before this World Cup and you still have plenty of magical moments.

Messi (left) and Mbappe (right) form a star attacking duo in the Sportsmail squad

Messi (left) and Mbappe (right) form a star attacking duo in the Sportsmail squad

A goal against Saudi Arabia, a goal against Mexico, a great performance against Poland (even if he missed a penalty kick), a goal against Australia, a goal and an assist against the Netherlands, a goal and two assists against Croatia. At the age of 35 years. silly.

Attacker – Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe and Messi, my PSG teammates, the best of the current generation (don’t come for me, Cristiano Ronaldo fans) and the best of the next, the current and first World Cup scorers in my squad.

I don’t really have to justify it – he’s very good at football. Even in a “quieter” match against England in the quarter-finals, England’s (largely successful) plan to block him opened up time and space for others.

The 23-year-old has already achieved what Ronaldo and perhaps Messi may not achieve in their careers – lifting the World Cup. Can he carry another on Sunday? Don’t put it in front of him.

The Sportsmail final brought together a France and Argentina XI, in a 4-3-1-2 formation

The Sportsmail final brought together a France and Argentina XI, in a 4-3-1-2 formation

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