The 2022 FIFA World Cup final has served up a tantalising showdown between Argentina and France.
Within this fixture, two superstars of the game will go head-to-head, as Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe look to fire their nations to glory.
Both have shone brightly in Qatar so far and enter the final as joint top scorers with five goals to their names.
Unlike Mbappe, Messi is yet to win a World Cup and has confirmed the final will be his last match at the tournament.
While at very different points in their careers, the duo are no strangers to one another and will face off once again in their biggest match to date.
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Messi vs Mbappe head-to-head record
Though current teammates at PSG, Messi and Mbappe have previously played three games against each other for club and country.
Their first meeting came at the 2018 World Cup in Russia when France knocked out Argentina in the Round of 16 after a dramatic 4-3 win. Mbappe scored a second-half double that day while Messi was unable to get on the scoresheet but did claim two assists.
France and Argentina played in the 2018 World Cup Round of 16 where France beat Argentina 4-3.
Kylian Mbappe scored twice. 🍿 pic.twitter.com/aSdooVcTPD
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) December 14, 2022
In February 2021, the superstars faced off again in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 when Messi was still at Barcelona.
While the Argentine opened the scoring with a penalty in the first leg at Camp Nou, a stunning Mbappe hat-trick saw PSG claim a decisive 4-1 win.
In the reverse fixture, both players were once again on the scoresheet, with Mbappe this time opening the scoring with a spot-kick before Messi netted from open play just seven minutes later with a stunning effort. The then-Barcelona star missed a penalty just before halftime as the match ultimately ended 1-1.
Overall that means Messi is yet to defeat a team containing Mbappe, while the Frenchman has beaten the Argentine twice and scored six goals across their three meetings.
|Date||Competition||Score||Messi stats||Mbappe stats|
|FIFA World Cup||France 4
|90 mins/0 goals/
|89 mins/2 goals/
|UEFA Champions League||Barcelona 1
|90 mins/1 goal/
|90 mins/3 goals/
|UEFA Champions League||PSG 1
|90 mins/1 goal/
|90 mins/1 goal/
🔴🔵 First game against Barcelona for Kylian Mbappé = ⚽️⚽️⚽️
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 22, 2021
Messi vs Mbappe at age 23
Still just 23, Mbappe has won a whole lot at such a young age.
He won the World Cup in 2018 as a 19-year-old, which is an honour that still eludes Messi at 35 ahead of the 2022 final.
Messi did, however, already have a Ballon d’Or and UEFA Champions League title to his name by the age of 23 — two things Mbappe is still searching for.
According to stats compiled by Football Transfers based on when each player turned 23, Mbappe does have a slight edge over Messi at the same age in terms of impact on the pitch and overall team trophies.
Messi vs Mbappe at World Cups
Both players have enjoyed plenty of team and individual success in World Cup games.
Mbappe has lost just one game at the tournament to date, a 1-0 group stage loss to Tunisia in Qatar, and that was a match he notably didn’t start.
The Frenchman is also only two goals shy of Messi for overall goals at the tournament, despite playing 12 fewer games.
The Argentina great has, however, contributed five more assists and faced the pain of defeat at World Cups on five occasions.
*All stats accurate prior to 2022 World Cup final
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in the World Cup final pic.twitter.com/zAwK3kF9i1
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) December 14, 2022