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



CNN

Just yesterday, Enner seemed to have left Qatar as Valencia lifted the curtain on the 2022 World Cup.

As a month of football settles in the dust, fans are already in for one of the greatest World Cups in the sport’s history.

In fitting fashion, Sunday’s final was a firework display to give Qatar 2022 its final verdict.

It was a competition of superstars, penalty kicks, spectacular goals and goalkeeping masterclasses to reach the final, where Lionel Messi won the World Cup after Argentina beat France on penalties.

A moment that will linger in the memory like an impressionistic masterpiece is the incredible image of Messi, hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates, holding the World Cup trophy in his hands.

The match was billed as 23-year-old French star Kylian Mbappe and Messi, who is poised to take over the mantle of best player in the world from his 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain teammate.

Mbappe defended France’s victory at the 2018 tournament in Russia, while Messi was in his final World Cup game looking to capture the trophy that has long eluded him, allowing him to surpass Diego Maradona’s 1986 triumph.

The first 79 minutes were all about Messi. The Argentinian captain scored a successful penalty kick to give Argentina the lead. His agility then played a key role in the move La Albiceleste secondly.

Then, in the closing stages of normal time, Mbappe took control of the game alone, scoring two goals in two minutes to send the final to extra time.

Messi was thrown and Mbappe looked like he was on his way.

But in the 109th minute, the Argentinian scored his second goal of the match and restored the team’s lead.

Refusing to admit defeat, Mbappe woke up his team-mates and scored his second penalty to complete his hat-trick and reach the final with a penalty.

Mbappe and Messi both scored in the shootout, but in the end France missed two penalties and the Argentina captain put pressure on his teammates to fulfill their World Cup dream.

In just over two hours of football, these two players at two different stages of their careers showed brilliant performances and brilliant technique.

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

The last time was in 2006 when Italy beat France in the final of the World Cup, this time on penalties.

Sometimes it seems unfair to decide a series of actions between the penalty taker and the goalkeeper by a shootout.

However, a flurry of penalties at Lusail Stadium on Sunday seemed to add to the pressure and tension.

Messi’s first-half free-kick gave him his first World Cup finals goal, while his shot from the spot showed composure.

Mbappe scored not once, not twice, but three times in one game, showing absolute enthusiasm.

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

Earlier in Qatar 2022, one team had already felt the intensity of that pressure cooker atmosphere and the other side had come out, while one team had not.

Argentina’s quarter-final win over the Netherlands ended in a penalty shoot-out, with the South American team using distraction and delay tactics to mentally monster their opponents.

In Sunday’s final, Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez showed his ability to distract the French players and deflect the ball before Aurelien Chouameni’s attempt. France’s earlier effort was saved by Kingsley Coman Martinez.

Penalties are undeniably unlike anything else in sport – it’s a modern battle, and World Cup finals only add to the tension and drama.

Martinez saved France's Kingsley Coman's free-kick in the World Cup final.

World Cup finals are usually high-scoring, tight and intense.

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

Argentina’s second goal was arguably on par with Carlos Alberto’s stunning goal in Brazil’s 4-1 win over Italy in the 1970 World Cup final.

In the 35th minute, Alexis McAllister’s corner kick from Messi eased the pressure on Argentina’s defense as France tried to equalise.

Argentina opened the scoring after Messi had set up Julian Alvares with an inspired shot and then delivered a well-weighted pass to Manchester City striker Mack Allister.

Mac Allister unselfishly slotted the ball past Angel Di Maria to put Argentina 2-0 up with a brilliant counter-attack.

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

That was the crowning moment of a victory that dominated Argentina until Mbappe stepped up.

After his free-kick reduced the deficit 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.

In what seemed like an eternity on earth, Mbappe was able to show off the technique and timing of a desperate Martinez.

These are the moments that will define and capture the imagination of the 2022 World Cup final.

It will be remembered for so many reasons – Messi’s historic moment, Mbappe’s hat-trick in defeat, the end-to-end twists and turns that never failed to excite a shocked crowd.

Of course, there is plenty of competition for the title of “Best of the World Cup Finals”.

In 1950, Uruguay crushed Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, and four years later, West Germany pulled off another big surprise, beating Hungary’s magical Magyars to give the country its first World Cup title.

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

The 1970 final was Pele’s last appearance at the World Cup, as Brazil beat Italy to win their third title.

Four years later, they won their second World Cup in Munich, beating hosts West Germany 2-1 against a Dutch side consisting of Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens.

In Qatar 2022, Diego Maradona, like Messi, defeated West Germany 3-2 in the final and made his team the champion for the second time in 8 years.

In 1998, France hosted and won their first World Cup, largely thanks to the genius of Zinedine Zidane, who scored two goals in the final against a formidable Brazil team consisting of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Cafu, Bebeto and Roberto Carlos.

However, with its variety of events, dramas and artistic performances, the 2022 edition certainly holds the title of “Best World Cup Final”.

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