Lionel Messi is hoping to win the biggest prize of all in his final World Cup game, but France’s star-studded cast stand in his way.
Theo Hernandez defiantly stated Lionel Messi does not scare France, while Olivier Giroud is intent on denying the Argentina legend a dream World Cup swansong in Sunday’s final.
Les Bleus are on the cusp of defending the title they won in Russia four years ago after a hard-fought 2-0 win over Morocco in Wednesday’s second semi-final.
The spectacular match will be Messi’s last World Cup game and, for football romantics at least, it would be considered a fitting farewell for one of the all-time greats.
But France will have little time for sentiment as they seek to be crowned world champions for the third time and Milan full-back Hernandez said Les Bleus are not afraid of the Argentine talisman – who was the star of the show in La Albiceleste’s last four triumphs. over Croatia.
“Now we have to think about the final, I’m tired, but it’s so good to win a World Cup semi-final,” Hernandez was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Now we have to recover on Sunday, we are not afraid of Messi, but Argentina are an incredible team and we have a few days to work.
Giroud, who became France’s all-time top scorer during the tournament, was part of the team that beat Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16 at Russia 2018.
In that match, N’Golo Kante, who was absent in Qatar through injury, was tasked with marking Messi, whose five goals in the tournament could only be equaled by Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe.
Giroud revealed little about whether a similar tactic would be used, but said the entire squad would contribute to denying Messi the biggest prize of his illustrious career.
“Messi is an incredible player but we won’t let him enjoy the best night he can have,” he said.
“We want to win this game. We want to win another World Cup – and we will do everything to stop him.”
“But it’s not just Messi in that team. They have great players who also work for the team. I think that’s why they’re so strong.”
“I don’t know if we need a special plan. I remember in the days of 2018, N’Golo was on his back all game, behind him. But this time I don’t know what the plan will be. We’ll see with the manager.”