Messi targets World Cup glory against Mbappe’s France

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Lionel Messi is hoping to crown his stellar career by leading Argentina to World Cup glory on Sunday but Kylian Mbappe’s history-chasing France are standing in his way.

Qatar’s World Cup has been tarnished by con-troversy off the pitch but it concludes with the elec-trifying prospect of a final between two of global football’s powerhouses.

France may need every hour available as kick-off looms after their camp was struck by illness, forcing a number of players to sit out training and giving coach Didier Deschamps an unwanted headache.

Argentina and France are both aiming to win the trophy for the third time, with Les Bleus returning to the final four years after their triumph in Moscow.

Back-to-back titles would be a monumental achievement for the side coached by Deschamps — the only teams to have done it previously are Italy in the 1930s and Pele’s Brazil in 1958 and 1962.

Yet that potential achievement is trumped by Messi’s quest to win the ultimate prize in the game in what is almost certainly his final World Cup match.

The former Barcelona star has won everything going at the club level, also claiming the Ballon d’Or seven times, and last year led Argentina to victory in the Copa America.

Messi has been brilliant in his fifth World Cup as the team bounced back from a shock opening loss to Saudi Arabia, while his new sidekick, Julian Alvarez, has scored four times.

“It is exciting to be in the final, but there is still one step to go,” said coach Lionel Scaloni.

Chase for third title Aged 35 and driven by his desire to make up for the defeat by Germany in the 2014 final, Messi has scored five goals and produced some sublime assists.—AFP