Morocco  v Portugal  -World Cup
Getty Images

The World Cup final is set, and the storylines are rich. Kylian Mbappe of France and Lionel Messi of Argentina -- teammates at Paris Saint-Germain -- will look to make history on Sunday. We're only three sleeps away from a heavyweight showdown. I'm Igor Mello, and welcome to Thursday's Golazo Starting XI. 

Notable club games to watch:

  • Rangers vs. Hibernian, 3 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
  • Women's Champions League: Arsenal vs. Lyon, 3 p.m. ET 

New to this space? Get yourself the best deal in soccer and subscribe now to ensure you receive daily updates about the World Cup.

Remember, when the World Cup ends and Champions League resumes, you'll be able to catch all the action on Paramount+. Use offer code ALLYEAR now to get 50% off the annual plan. We've got UEFA club competitions, Serie A, NWSL, FA Women's Super League and more just one click away.

⚽  The Forward Line

What is Ronaldo doing training at Real Madrid?

Getty Images

Don't look now, but Cristiano Ronaldo is working out (alone) at Real Madrid's Valdebebas training ground as he searches for a new club. Is this just for show or should we expect the reigning Champions League winners to swoop in last minute to seal a sensational move back to the Bernabeu in time for the knockout stages in February? 

CBS Sports transfer insider Fabrizio Romano joined the House of Champions podcast following France's win over Morocco in the World Cup semifinal to discuss more on Ronaldo and plenty of other players in and out of the tournament drawing transfer buzz ahead of the January window.

  • Fabrizio on Ronaldo: "It was really surprising to see him at Valdebebas, the headquarters of Real Madrid, because it was not expected. But it was Cristiano who called Real Madrid to ask them ... [he wants] to keep his form at the best level while he waits for a new chapter of his career. He was together with his family, his son, so he was training in a separate pitch, and not the same pitch as Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti and his squad. He was on a separate pitch not to create any rumors or any problems. I'm told at the moment there are no negotiations between Ronaldo and Real Madrid. It's just something that [he was able to do] because of the great relationship between Ronaldo and the whole club – the staff, Carlo Ancelotti himself and, of course, Florentino Perez. As of today, the only bid on the table is from Al Nassr."
  • Fabrizio on Sofyan Amrabat's Fiorentina future: "The original plan for Fiorentina was to keep the player because he was doing very well. … After investing around €50 million [with fees] to sign him from Verona two years ago, now the player has a value of €30-35 million. They state in private that they want around €40 million to sell Sofyan Amrabat. As of now, there are a lot of rumors of Liverpool and other clubs tracking Amrabat. …  It's true that there is interest from important clubs, including Liverpool, but at the moment there are no negotiations, so there is no bid from Liverpool and no direct negotiations on the player's side … Fiorentina will want to keep him until the end of the season and then try to sell him in the summer, but let's see if that's going to be possible. I think if [they are offered] €40-35 million, I think they will sell him."
  • Fabrizio on USMNT midfielder Yunus Musah's transfer value: "Yunus Musah, who's doing very well with Valencia and was very good with the USMNT at the World Cup, [is another player to watch]. I'm told that three Premier League clubs have made contact with his agent to understand the possibilities of signing him -- if not in January, in the summer. It was a big opportunity for him to shine and I think he's going to have a chance in 2023 to move to the Premier League. It is a huge possibility."

For more on Romano's transfer notes -- he touches on plenty of other players -- be sure to follow the House of Champions podcast, bringing you top-notch analysis, commentary, picks and more from the world of soccer.

🔗  Midfield Link Play

Give Varane his flowers

France  v Morocco -World Cup
Getty Images

France have reached a men's World Cup final for the fourth time in program history. All four appearances have been made in the past 24 years, or in the past seven World Cups. This will be the 22nd World Cup final and Argentina vs. France will be the 19th different matchup played. We'll have plenty of time between now and then to discuss what's at stake for the legacies of Mbappe and Messi as they are 90 minutes away from glory. For now, let's give Raphael Varane his flowers. Jonathan Johnson breaks down why the Manchester United defender was the glue that kept the French defense together in the 2-0 semifinal win over Morocco. 

  • Johnson: "... Raphael Varane was once again a rock at the heart of the defense with two clearances and one interception inside the box. The Manchester United man actually deserves some credit as he has rediscovered his former self in Qatar just in time for another shot at title glory. As Deschamps has done with Antoine Griezmann, he has also done with Varane and stripped his game back down to the basics and rebuilt one of his most trusted on-pitch lieutenants."  

Let's get to some more links:

💰  The Back Line

Best bet

Let's look ahead to Sunday. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Argentina vs. France, Sunday, 10 a.m. ET
    💰 THE PICK: Both teams to score (+105). World Cup finals tend to be low-scoring affairs because there's so much at stake. The 2018 final wasn't the case and France and Argentina have each conceded five goals in six games. It's just that both teams pitched a shutout in the semifinal. Expect some goals in this one. Make sure to follow SportsLine's best bet on this matchup.