The European football expert says Sunday’s final is more than just v
We know who the main men are but isn’t this about more than the two Paris Saint-Germain stars?
It is, but we see more and more of people admiring individuals before teams. To have a final with the two biggest names — and right now they are — and with Mbappe trying to make history by winning it again, Messi trying to win it for the first time, there are a lot of stories behind it. It’s the final we deserve, two teams who are principally reactive, who put six, seven players behind the ball and know there will be a moment that takes it their way. Argentina show a bit more initiative than France, but not a lot. Nobody will want the ball, France dominate without having it. We don’t know who’s going to have it.
France have been hit by a sickness bug. How much of a factor could that be?
It’s not ideal. These sides have used their bench to the max. Let’s how see France go but not much will vary unless you have to put the goalkeeper at centre-forward! They all know their job and that’s to make sure the lines are close, they support team-mates and the ball eventually gets to Antoine Griezmann. I don’t think it will be a massive issue.
How much do Argentina still rely on Messi?
Having the best player in the world means you have to create the context to maximise his potential. Different coaches have tried and Lionel Scaloni seems to have the perfect balance. Julian Alvarez always admired Messi and when he retired, he wrote to him saying: ‘Please don’t leave.’ Look at him now, exchanging passes with Messi to score that third goal against Croatia. They play to his strengths.
Where does Cristiano Ronaldo go next?
He’s a player who, in my eyes, doesn’t belong to the elite now. It was so fitting the way he left the pitch in Portugal’s last game, on his own, not saying anything to team-mates, rivals, the referee. It was Cristiano crying for Cristiano. If you’re Chelsea, you don’t need him. As for Newcastle, I’m sure what Eddie Howe has been doing has been about balancing things out and you bring that kind of bomb into the changing room, it won’t be easy to deal with. I would be surprised.
Any players that could spark a scramble among English clubs for their signatures next month?
So many – Sofyan Amrabat and Azzedine Ounahi of Morocco, Alexis Mac Allister perhaps belongs to a different level than Brighton. Enzo Fernandez will end up at a very, very big club. Alvarez looks the bargain of the decade for Manchester City (£14.1million).
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