After 32 teams arrived in Qatar for the FIFA World Cup over a month ago, only two now remain.
Tonight, either France or Argentina will lift the World Cup trophy and add another high point to their nation’s illustrious soccer history.
But why do you care? Whether you’re a Lionel Messi fanboy, a devoted Francophile, or just looking to enjoy the game with a few friends, here’s a quick guide to catch you up to speed.
A quick history
France and Argentina will both be looking to win their third World Cup tonight.
Argentina has been waiting almost 40 years to celebrate another World Cup victory (1978, 1986). Their last triumph was led by the late legendary footballer Diego Maradona, who holds a God-like status in Argentina.
France has had more recent success at the World Cup (1998, 2018). If they win tonight, they will become the first nation in 60 years (Brazil – 1958, 1962) to win back-to-back World Cups.
How did we get here?
After a shock loss to Saudi Arabia in their first match in Qatar, Argentina won their following two matches to finish at the top of the group. They then edged past Australia, before defeating the Netherlands and Croatia to book their spot in the last game of the tournament.
France beat Poland, England, and Morocco to make the final. They only lost one match in the tournament, which was after they had already secured their spot in the knockout stages.
France’s soccer team, nicknamed Les Bleus, came into Qatar without many of the key players that steered them to their 2018 World Cup victory.
Despite this, France has never looked to be on the brink of elimination.
None of their matches have been settled in extra-time or a penalty shootout, with their biggest test coming in a 2-1 quarterfinal win against England.
Kylian Mbappe: The 23-year-old forward is already considered one of the best players in the world. He won the Best Young Player award at the last World Cup, where he scored a goal in the final to seal the victory for the French.
Hugo Lloris: The veteran goalkeeper is France’s longtime captain. He led his side to victory in 2018, and will be tasked with doing the same job again tonight.
After hard-fought affairs in their first two matches of the knockout stages, Argentina cruised past Croatia to book their spot in the final.
Argentina only made it to the semi-finals after defeating the Netherlands in a penalty shootout, after heroics from goalkeeper Emi Martinez. This experience may come in handy if the final comes down to spot-kicks.
Lionel Messi: A World Cup trophy is the only thing missing from the all-time great’s resume. At 35, tonight may be his last chance to get his hands on the trophy.
Julian Alvarez: Messi’s forward partner scored two goals in the semi-final, and has been in top form throughout the tournament. With most of the French attention likely to be devoted to Messi, Alvarez could be Argentina’s shining light up front.
What else to watchj
The ‘game-within-the-game’ on Monday will be the race for the tournament’s Golden Boot, which is given to the player who scores the most amount of goals.
Currently, Messi and Mbappe are both tied for first on five goals, with Alvarez and French striker Olivier Giroud trail behind on four.
While this won’t be the players’ focus, a strong performance in this match could see them double their trophy haul.