World Cup Final: Alexis Mac Allister to play major role in Lionel Messi's 'Last Dance'

Alexis Mac Allister is set to start in Sunday’s World Cup final when Argentina face France at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.
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The Brighton midfielder has started every game for the South American outfit since they lost shockingly lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their opening game of the tournament. Now, the 23-year-old is hoping to help his country end their 36-year wait for a World Cup triumph, when they face defending world champions France on Sunday.

Before the tournament began, many pundits and fans alike picked Argentina as favourites for the tournament, having been on a 36-game unbeaten run since 2019, which included winning the Copa America in 2021.

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This tournament was also expected to be the last opportunity for Lionel Messi to win a World Cup. Considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, it was seen as a fitting end to a dazzling career from the 35-year-old.

Alexis Mac Allister is hoping to help his country end their 36-year wait for a World Cup triumph, when they face defending world champions France on Sunday.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)Alexis Mac Allister is hoping to help his country end their 36-year wait for a World Cup triumph, when they face defending world champions France on Sunday.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Alexis Mac Allister is hoping to help his country end their 36-year wait for a World Cup triumph, when they face defending world champions France on Sunday.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Messi has since confirmed that Sunday’s final will be his latest appearance at the World Cup.

Despite the pre-competition hype, Argentina’s World Cup got off to a disastrous start with defeat to Saudi Arabia, a game that Mac Allister was not selected for.

The midfielder was then brought in to the first eleven for Argentina’s crucial 2-0 victory over Mexico, before scoring his first international goal in their 2-0 win over Poland, helping his nation to top Group C.

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Mac Allister’s qualities were also on display in La Albiceleste’s knockout victories over Australia (2-1) and in their dramatic penalty shootout win over the Netherlands in the quarter-final.

Mac Allister scored his first international goal in Argentina's 2-0 win over Poland, helping his nation to top Group C.Mac Allister scored his first international goal in Argentina's 2-0 win over Poland, helping his nation to top Group C.
Mac Allister scored his first international goal in Argentina's 2-0 win over Poland, helping his nation to top Group C.

The Albion midfielder has been praised for his movement, work-rate across the pitch and footballing intelligence, with many pundits seeing it as pivotal to Argentina’s success.

Speaking before the Argentina-Croatia semi-final on ITV, Ian Wright said: “He’s done a very good job, he’s gone under the radar with what he has done. The way he can get into the box, the way he tracks back and does that work.”

Roy Keane added: “It’s all about the timing, he drifts into the box. We see him do it week-in and week out in the Premier League, getting in the right position and reading the game well. It’s that football intelligence, knowing where the ball is going to go.

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“He’s still growing and getting used to international football, but we don't see it much in the modern midfielder what he does. He’s been showing his quality and has got better and better as the tournament has gone on.”

The Albion midfielder has been praised for his movement, work-rate across the pitch and footballing intelligence, with many pundits seeing it as pivotal to Argentina’s success (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)The Albion midfielder has been praised for his movement, work-rate across the pitch and footballing intelligence, with many pundits seeing it as pivotal to Argentina’s success (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
The Albion midfielder has been praised for his movement, work-rate across the pitch and footballing intelligence, with many pundits seeing it as pivotal to Argentina’s success (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Argentina went on to demolish Croatia 3-0 on Tuesday (December 13) to book their place in the country’s sixth World Cup final.

Their opponents France became their first side to reach back-to-back World Cup finals since Brazil did 20 years ago (1998, 2002), beating surprise package Morocco 2-0 at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Having topped Group D, France beat Poland 4-1 in the round of 16 and overcame a strong England team 2-1 in the quarter-final.

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Les Bleus run to the final has been lead by the attacking talents of Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann, as well as the defensive rear-guard of Raphaël Varane and Ibrahima Konaté.

Both teams will be facing each other for the first time in World Cup final, each looking to win their third world title.

It will also be a showdown for the tournaments golden boot, with Mpabbe and Messi both leading the way on five goals, while Giroud and Manchester City striker Julián Álvarez follow closely behind with four goals each.

The two sides faced each other at the 2018 World Cup in Russia in the last 16, battling it out in one of the best games in the competition's history.

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It was the game that announced a then 19-year-old Mbappe onto the world stage, with his two goals helping France to a 4-3 victory.

The match was also famous for containing two of the best goals from that tournament, with Angel Di Maria firing in from 30 yards and Benjamin Pavard striking an exquisite half volley from the edge of the area.

Argentina face France at 3pm GMT on Sunday, December 18.