Why Argentina’s win over France was the greatest World Cup final ever


It seems like just yesterday that Ener Valencia eliminated Qatar in the 2022 World Cup.

As the dust settles on an exciting month of football matches, fans are treated to possibly one of the biggest World Cup matches in the sport’s history.

Fittingly, Sunday’s final exploded like a fireworks display to deliver the ultimate result for Qatar 2022.

It was a final of superstar contests, penalties, iconic goals and goalkeeping masterclasses, with Lionel Messi crowned world champion after Argentina beat France on penalties.

The pièce de résistance, a moment that will long live in memories like an impressionistic masterpiece, is the iconic image of Messi – hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates – with the World Cup finally in his hands.

The match was billed as Kylian Mbappe vs. Messi – the 23-year-old French star poised to take over the mantle of best player in the world from his 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain team-mate.

Mbappe was defending France’s 2018 tournament win in Russia, Messi was playing in his last World Cup game and was looking to win the trophy that had eluded him for so long, enabling him to match Diego’s victory. Maradona equalized in the 1986 competition.

The first 79 minutes were all about Messi. Argentina’s captain converted the penalty to give Argentina the lead. Then, his deft touch was the key to the move that led to it La Albi Celeste The second.

Then, in the final stages of normal time, Mbappe took control of the game by himself and scored two goals in two minutes and sent the final to overtime.

Messi shot and Mbappé looked to be on the move.

Except it was the diminutive Argentine who came on later and scored his second goal of the match to restore his team’s lead in the 109th minute.

Refusing to accept defeat, Mbappe spurred on his teammates and scored a second penalty to complete his hat-trick and send the final to a penalty shoot-out.

Both Mbappe and Messi scored in the shootout but in the end – with France missing two penalties – it was the Argentina captain who was attacked by his team-mates and his World Cup dream came true in real time.

Over two hours of football, these two players – at two different points in their careers – displayed the beautiful game in bright and glorious colours.

Mbappe sits on the bench at the end of the World Cup final.

The last time a World Cup final went to penalty kicks was in 2006, when France lost again, this time to Italy.

Sometimes, it’s unfair to end a game in a shootout, a series of actions between the penalty taker and the goalkeeper.

However, a flurry of penalties added to the pressure at Lusail Stadium on Sunday.

Messi’s first-half penalty gave him his first World Cup finals goal, while his spot-kick showed composure in the shootout.

Mbappé’s ability to convert not once, not twice, but three times successfully from point to point in a single game was indicative of fierce hostility.

Mbappe scored France's third goal against Argentina in the World Cup final.

Already at Qatar 2022, one team has already experienced the intensity of that pressure cooker atmosphere and come out on the other side, and a team that hasn’t.

Argentina edged out the Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out saga in the quarter-finals, with the South American side using distraction and delay tactics to possibly mentally monster their opponents.

In Sunday’s final, Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez showed his ability to distract the French attackers, clearing the ball before Aurelien Tuamney’s effort. France’s previous effort – from Kingsley Coman – was saved by Martinez.

Admittedly, penalty kicks are unlike anything else in sport – it’s a modern duel and a World Cup final with so much at stake only adds to the tension and drama.

Martinez saved French Kingsley Coman's penalty in the World Cup final.

World Cup finals are often associated with high-profile goals.

Argentina and France threw away that playbook – scoring six goals, two of which were of the highest quality.

Argentina’s second goal was undoubtedly as good as Carlos Alberto’s breathtaking goal in the 1970 World Cup final in Brazil’s 4-1 win over Italy.

It was in the 35th minute that a corner kick from Alexis McAllister to Messi eased the pressure on Argentina’s defense and France pushed for the equalizer.

After Messi’s deft touch to Julian Alvarez and the Manchester City forward’s superb pass to McAllister, who had continued his run, Argentina were on target.

McAllister unselfishly had the presence of mind to send the ball to Angel Di Maria. He finished off a brilliant counter-attack to make it 2-0 to Argentina.

Di Maria celebrates after scoring Argentina's second goal against France in the World Cup final.

At that point, it looked like Argentina’s crowning glory, until Mbappe came on.

After his penalty reduced the score to 2-1, a one-two with Marcus Thuram saw the ball drop from the sky to the PSG star on the edge of the Argentine penalty area.

Mbappe put on a seemingly all-time superb display of technique and timing to thunder the ball past a frustrated Martinez.

These are the moments that capture the imagination and the moments that have come to define the 2022 World Cup final.

It will be remembered for many reasons – Messi’s historic moment, Mbappe’s hat-trick in defeat, the see-saw nature of the game that swung from end to end and never failed to capture the emotions of a grieving crowd.

Of course, there is a lot of competition for the title of “Greatest World Cup Final”.

In 1950, Uruguay upset Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, while four years later, West Germany pulled off another major surprise, defeating magical Hungary to give the country its first World Cup title.

Geoff Hurst scored the first hat-trick in a World Cup final in the 1966 final between England and West Ham. 56 years later Hurst’s second goal is still being talked about – was the ball over the line? According to the match officials, it happened and England won 4-2.

The 1970 final marked Pele’s last appearance at the World Cup as he won his third title in Brazil’s high-scoring victory over Italy.

Four years later in Munich, hosts West Germany came from behind to win 2-1 against a star-studded Netherlands team – consisting of Johan Cruyff and Johan Niskens – to win their second World Cup.

Like Messi at Qatar 2022, Diego Maradona almost single-handedly led his team to their second title in eight years, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

In 1998, France hosted and won their first World Cup, largely thanks to the brilliance of Zinedine Zidane, who scored twice in the final to defeat a formidable Brazil team of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Cafo, Bebto and Roberto Carlos. to give

However, with the multiple storylines and drama and artistry on display, the 2022 showdown surely now deserves the title of ‘Greatest World Cup Final ever’.


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