Argentina’s Win Over France Was The Greatest World Cup Final Ever
Many fans think that Argentina’s win over France was the greatest World Cup final ever. It seems like only yesterday that Enner Valencia was thwarting Qatar in the opening match of the 2022 World Cup.
Fans have been treated to what is arguably one of the greatest ever World Cup tournaments in the history of the sport, and as the dust begins to settle on an exciting month of soccer action, they have been given a chance to reflect on it.
The Sunday’s Final
It was only fitting that the grand finale of Qatar 2022 should go out with a bang like a fireworks show, and that's exactly what happened on Sunday.
This was a final that featured superstar rivalries, penalties, iconic goals, and goalkeeping masterclasses, and it culminated in Lionel Messi being crowned world champion after Argentina beat France on penalties to win the match.
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The pièce de résistance, a moment that will live long in the memory like an impressionistic masterpiece, is that iconic image of Messi with the World Cup trophy finally in his hands while being lifted aloft on the shoulders of his teammates.
Kylian Mbappé, a French star who is 23 years old and poised to take over the mantle of the greatest player in the world from Lionel Messi, who is 35 years old and a teammate of Mbappé's at Paris Saint-Germain, was scheduled to compete against Messi in this match.
Messi was playing in his final World Cup match, looking to claim the trophy that has eluded him for such a long time and which would enable him to match Diego Maradona's achievement of winning the 1986 competition.
While Mbappé was defending France's 2018 victory at the tournament in Russia, Messi was playing in his final World Cup match, looking to claim the trophy that has eluded him for such a long time.
Messi took center stage for the first 79 minutes of play. The penalty was converted by the captain of Argentina's team, giving Argentina the lead. Next, his deft touch was essential to springing the move that led to La Albiceleste's second goal, and he played a role in both of those goals.
Mbappé then single-handedly took control of the game in the dying minutes of regulation time by scoring two goals in the space of two minutes, which forced the championship match to go into extra time.
Messi looked shot and Mbappé looked like he was just getting going.
Except for the fact that it was the diminutive Argentine who next showed up to score his second goal of the match and restore his team's lead in the 109th minute of the game.
Mbappé, unwilling to concede defeat, rallied his teammates and scored a second penalty, giving him a hat trick and sending the championship match into a shootout round of penalties.
Both Mbappé and Messi scored during the shootout, but in the end – with France missing two penalties - it was the Argentina captain who was mobbed by his teammates as his World Cup dream was lived out in real-time. Messi and Mbappé both scored during the shootout.
Over the course of two hours of soccer, these two players showed the "beautiful game" in brilliant, glorious technicolor. This was accomplished despite the fact that they were at two different points in their careers.
The most recent time that a World Cup final was decided by penalties was in 2006 when France was defeated for the second time in a row, this time by Italy.
When a game is decided by a shootout, which consists of a series of actions between the player who will take the penalty and the goalkeeper, it can feel unfair.
On the other hand, there appeared to be a ratcheting up of the pressure and tension at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday due to the abundance of penalties.
Messi scored his first goal in the World Cup final with the penalty kick he took in the first half, and his subsequent penalty kick in the shootout was the epitome of coolness.
Mbappé exhibited a tremendous amount of gumption by successfully converting from the penalty spot not once, not twice, but three times in the same game.
Previously, at Qatar 2022, one team had already experienced the intensity of that pressure cooker atmosphere and emerged victorious, while the other had not.
Argentina defeated the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, culminating in a penalty shootout, in which the South American team used distraction and delaying tactics to arguably mentally monster their opponents.
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martnez demonstrated his ability to distract the French takers in Sunday's final, throwing the ball away before Aurélien Tchouaméni's attempt, which flew wide. Martinez had saved France's previous attempt, from Kingsley Coman.
A penalty shootout is unlike anything else in sports - it's a modern-day duel, and the fact that it's a World Cup final only adds to the tension and drama.
It appeared to be the climax of Argentina's dominant victory at the time until Mbappé stepped up.
After his penalty cut Argentina's deficit to 2-1, a neat one-two with Marcus Thuram resulted in the ball falling from the sky to the PSG star on the edge of Argentina's penalty area.
Mbappé produced a wonderful display of technique and timing with seemingly all the time in the world to thunder the ball past a despairing Martnez.
These are the moments that captivated audiences and came to define the 2022 World Cup final.
It will be remembered for a variety of reasons, including Messi's historic moment, Mbappé's hat trick in defeat, and the game's seesaw nature, which oscillated from end to end and never ceased to tug on the emotions of stunned viewers.