The Five Best Options for the 2022 World Cup Final

November 11th, 2021, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Ireland versus Portugal; Cristiano Ronaldo smiles

Our selection for a proper climax to this intense month of football

The 2022 World Cup is packed with decade-old rivalries and modern-day stars. From the long list of veterans coming in for the last time to the exciting youngsters and debutants. Football fans will want to see as many hot match-ups throughout the tournament, preferably in the latter stages, when everything is at stake. Combining all of these factors and considering the draw, we listed the best five possible finals that can take place in a bit more than a month from now. Join us, dreaming never hurt anyone. 

5. Portugal vs. England

How likely is it to happen?

How Portugal will arrive at the tournament is an enigma. They were not convincing in Euro 2020, Fernando Santos’ tactics feel outdated, but above all, the state of the dressing room is unclear. Ronaldo’s furious interview with Piers Morgan revealed his level of frustration from his situation at his club. Whereas in the past, you knew he would convert that angry energy to silence his critics, nowadays, it might be the case that this turns into a total mess, on and off the pitch. 

Footage has surfaced supporting rumors that Bruno Fernandes has not taken well his Man Utd teammate’s slandering of their club. On the other side, Bernardo Silva spoke out in support of his captain, and Portugal still has enough good players to go far in this tournament. England and Portugal are on opposing sides of the bracket, meaning they have to finish in the same place in their respective groups to be able to meet only in the final.

Why would it make a great final?

English fans are deeply invested in the Ronaldo story. Manchester United fans will never think positively of him anymore. He’s picked a fight with former teammates, Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney, bringing back memories from the last time Portugal and England met in the World Cup. Then, in 2006, when he was just emerging as a superstar at United, he ran to the referee pleading for Rooney to get sent off after a foul on Ricardo Carvalho. The English striker saw the red card and England got knocked out in the quarter finals. The two players went on to win titles together with the Red Devils, and Rooney insisted that he never held grudge over the incident. 

This time, things are different. If Bruno Fernandes is cold towards Ronaldo, imagine what Shaw, Rashford, and Maguire think of him. The consensus against Ronaldo extends beyond Old Trafford, and surely the whole English squad will be motivated to crush his dreams of a first World Cup title.

4. France vs. Brazil

How likely is it to happen?

Given that both countries are on different sides of the bracket and that they’re considered by many as favorites to win the tournament, no one would be shocked if this will indeed be the final. Obviously, they have to materialize the potential of their excellent squads, and Les Bleus will have to avoid the fate of previous title defenders, including themselves in 2002.

Why would it make a great final?

For one, it’s safe to say that France and Brazil have the two deepest squads with the most options in attack. This could make for a thrilling match-up. In addition, there are so many club teammates split between both sides, which would be a lot of fun to watch. Imagine Benzema facing Vinicius Jr., Antony trying to overcome Varane or Richarlison scoring against Lloris. 

And then there’s also history. You’re right, we’re talking about the 1998 World Cup final. The final where Brazil came in trying to clinch two wins in a row, and France wanted to lift their first trophy, on home soil. The one in which 21-year-old prime Ronaldo broke down after an excellent tournament. 24 years after that iconic game, it would be interesting to see the two powerhouses battle again for the gold. 

3. Argentina vs. England

How likely is it to happen?

England is being downplayed by fans and media at home due to their bad run of results. Typical English pessimism aside, it’s hard to rule out a team that’s reached the 2018 World Cup semis and the Euro 2020 finals. Argentina is one of the top three favorites in almost every prediction, with a 36-games-unbeaten streak, excellent atmosphere, fantastic support, and one Leo Messi. The two are on the same side of the bracket, so they’d have to finish in different places in their groups to be able to meet in the final. 

Why would it make a great final?

Wow, where do we start? Probably with the reason the two countries, 8,000km of Atlantic ocean between them, developed a rivalry: the Falklands/Malvinas War. Four years after the deadly conflict, the blood still boiling, Argentina and England met in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup. In the time frame of four minutes, Argentina was 2-0 up due to the most controversial goal in history and one of the most beautiful ones, both courtesy of Diego Maradona. The match ended 2-1, offering the Argentines redemption after their loss in the war en-route to a second World Cup win. 

The next time the sides met for an official match was 12 years later, in the round of 16 of the 1998 World Cup. This game, too, promised a lot and didn’t disappoint. It included a red card which left David Beckham ostracized in his home country, a magnificent goal by Michael Owen and a dramatic penalty-shootout finish. Again, Argentina came out with the upper hand.

Four years later, Beckham was mostly forgiven and led the Three Lions as captain to an important 1-0 group stage win, scoring the game’s only goal. As you can understand, this rivalry took a life of its own on the football pitch, and although the teams met many times, a World Cup final clash will bring things to a whole new level.

2. Argentina vs. Brazil

How likely is it to happen?

Brazil is the bookie’s favorite, Argentina is in the top three, and the teams are on different sides of the bracket. Enough said. It’s possible.

Why would it make a great final?

One of the biggest rivalries in football, the two biggest nations in South America share seven World Cup titles. The neighbors met in 109 recognized matches, splitting almost evenly between them, with the Albiceleste winning 40, three shy of the Seleção.

Their history includes memorable Copa America finals and plenty of iconic World Cup qualifying clashes. In the World Cup, they met three times, with the last game occurring in 1990, providing hard evidence that the sides would do anything to win

Eight years ago, they came as close as it got to meet in a final when both teams reached the semis in the tournament that took place in Brazil. But the hosts bottled it big time, with a nightmare 1-7 loss to Germany shattering their hopes. A 2021 Copa America final between the two, also on Brazilian soil, left fans to fantasize about what could’ve been if the tournament wouldn’t take place behind closed doors due to COVID-19. 

To add some juice, it would be great to see close friends and PSG leaders, Neymar and Messi, battling it off, the winner taking it all. 

1. Argentina vs. Portugal

How likely is it to happen?

Argentina is a title contender, Portugal are talented and motivated enough to go far, the two are on different sides of the bracket. Bring it on.

Why would it make a great final?

We’ll always have Brazil against Argentina. Longtime football rivalries are here to stay. But this is something we never had, and not sure we ever will. Two players that are considered the best in history. A personal rivalry that shaped a generation. Moreover, there’s a very small chance that any of them will play in another World Cup, let alone both of them. 

For two players that won it all and broke every record at the club level, the top scorers of their national teams, and continental champions, the World Cup is still considered the only monkey on their back. Not only did they not win it, but they also haven’t been very good at it, with a huge 0 in their combined tally of knockout goals after four tournaments each. 

Imagine the internet if it happens. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s and Elon Musk’s wet dream. EVERYONE will become a troll; serious people with lives and families will casually use silly phrases like “Pessi,” “Penaldo,” and “finished.” It will effectively end the debate that was in the center of tens of thousands of articles and analyses. One game, the winner takes it all. Please, make it happen.  

Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento in Guadalajara

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