Fabio Capello praised the performances of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe for Argentina and France in their respective World Cup semi-finals but suggested the former has largely been below par at Qatar 2022.
The Paris Saint-Germain teammates have been the headline stars of the tournament and will face off in Sunday’s final in Qatar with the trophy on the line.
For Messi, it is the chance to collect the major honor that has eluded him throughout his career, while for Mbappe it is an opportunity to defend the crown he won in Russia in 2018.
Former England boss Capello had kind words for both men, saying they were key figures in steering their sides through with wins over Croatia and Morocco respectively.
“Messi and Mbappe made the difference [in their semi-finals],” he said.
“Messi produced a great game and Mbappe arrived decisively twice near the goal, his two shots caused two deflections and they won against Morocco.”
Capello does believe Messi had not always shown a spark before his impressive semi-final showcase against Croatia, though.
“Messi is back to being Messi,” he added. “That only applies to the Argentina-Croatia game, though. Before that match, he just walked around the pitch.”
Capello has enjoyed the World Cup and thinks its timing has been an important boost to the spectacle.
The Italian added: “It’s been a good World Cup. The coaches did not give space to their opponents and I’ve seen great attention to detail.
“The players arrived fresh and ran a lot. Players arrived in the middle of the current season, so they were all fresh.
“We have seen a [World Cup] of running and a good level of competition, different to when the World Cup is usually held in June when the players are tired.
“The two sides in the final are the teams who were able to reach another level technically. I think it’s going to be very difficult for either side to win. I don’t know how it’s going to end.”
Messi and Mbappe are tied in the race for the Golden Boot with five goals apiece heading into their final game of the tournament.