On December 18th, the World Cup 2022 final had occurred in Qatar between Argentina and France. It was considered the greatest World Cup final ever by a huge number of football lovers around the world. In the end, Lionel Messi can finally be called a world champion.
The world of soccer is now Lionel Messi‘s to rule. The Argentina captain made his 5th appearance for his country in international football stage at the conclusion of the most draining, nerve-wracking World Cup final ever played with his signature move – a match-winning star turn to capture the one trophy that had eluded him.
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The Final – A Truly Nerve-wracking Match.
With Argentina and France both demonstrating the capacity to ramp it up when the intensity and skill were needed the most, this matchup between two of the finest teams in the competition was always going to be a huge one.
As was to be expected, Lionel Scaloni decided to start Nicolas Tagliafico on the other flank while also keeping Nahuel Molina at right back. Angel Di Maria was back in the squad wide on the left, but the intimidating midfield was unaltered from the semifinal victory over Croatia.
Argentina: E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Messi, Alvarez, Di Maria
Didier Deschamps had nearly a complete roster of players to choose from for France as the illness problems in their camp began to subside.
France XI: Lloris; Koundé, Varane, Upamecano, T. Hernandez; Tchouameni, Rabiot; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud
The Final Recap.
Argentina appeared to have unfinished business when the game first began. Right from the first whistle, they pressed high, passed precisely, and attacked purposefully, appearing to stun the reigning champs France.
The persistent drumbeat and cheer from the crowd certainly contributed significantly to the Albicelesti’s victory, as Deschamps’ team appeared a little star-struck on the large platform.
Just after the first quarter of an hour, when it appeared that Les Bleus were gradually working their way into the match, a systematic play resulted in a jinking run from Angel Di Maria being fouled by Ousmane Dembele in the area, giving Argentina a clear penalty. At the halfway point of the first half, Argentina led 1-0 thanks to a penalty kick from Lionel Messi, who outwaited Hugo Lloris’ dive to his right and calmly deposited the ball in the back of the net.
As the half went on, Scaloni’s risk in bringing Di Maria back into the starting lineup paid off nicely as his team scored a precise goal on the counterattack to extend their lead to two. Just 36 minutes into the World Cup Final, a defensive clearance went to Messi, and a succession of one-touch passes from Julian Alvarez and Alexis Mac Allister found Di Maria coming down on goal from the left. His dink over Lloris made it 2-0.
Deschamps demonstrated his annoyance by not even waiting for the halftime to start ringing the changes, despite the fact that the opening stanza would be extended by seven minutes due to a pair of earlier injury stoppages. Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram replaced Dembele and Olivier Giroud, and France switched to a more aggressive 4-2-3-1 formation to strengthen the midfield, where Argentina held the initiative to begin the match.
When play resumed in the second half, it was expected that the pace of the game quickly slowed down as Argentina let France have the ball and defended densely while being poised to counterattack. Les Bleus, on the other hand, were immediately dragged into the game of their rival, with Scaloni’s men utilizing any opportunity to squander time through setpieces and fouls. In order to strengthen the defense, wingback Marcos Acuna replaced Di Maria, who is still not totally healthy.
As the hour mark approached, France’s urgency rose, and a period of pressure led to their first shot of the entire game on the 70th minute. Eduardo Camavinga and Kingsley Coman then entered the game, and Antoine Griezmann and Theo Hernandez left as France transitioned to a more offensive formation.
France was level in a matter of minutes after that sudden change of momentum! When Kolo Muani first sprinted past Nicolas Otamendi and was brought down in the penalty area, the game calmed down as the Argentina fans became silent. Emiliano Martinez’s right hand was unable to stop Mbappe’s shot as he advanced and sent it there.
France had equalized the score before Argentina could calm down once more. With less than ten minutes remaining in regulation, Coman found Mbappe, who exchanged passes with Thuram before unleashing a low, thunderous volley toward the far corner that Martinez only managed to paw into his own net.
The game became tense as the minutes passed, and even while Les Bleus, who were headed by a re-energized Mbappe, continued to search for the winner, even the eight and a half minutes of added time could not separate the two teams, with both Mbappe and Messi nearly clinching it late.
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Both teams made substitutions before the start of extra time, with Rabiot coming on for Youssouf Fofana and Gonzalo Montiel replacing Molina. After defending deep for the entirety of the first half, Argentina attempted to transition back into an attacking formation with the score tied.
Since neither team wanted to make a crucial error that would cost them the Final, it was a tense fifteen minutes, more in line with how we had anticipated this game would be played. Scaloni substituted in a few more like-for-like subs, Lautaro Martinez and Leandro Paredes for Alvarez and De Paul, in response to the younger France subs’ increased vigor.
The move nearly paid off right away as Martinez’s effort on a rare foray forward was expertly stopped by Upamecano, and Raphael Varane then headed away Acuna’s flying shot from the rebound. A little over a minute later, Upamecano made a fantastic stop to deny Martinez a clear shot at goal as Lloris charged out just before halftime.
Soon after play resumed, however, Argentina quickly regained the lead, 3-2, thanks to a goal from Messi that was scored from close range. Martinez had barely managed to stay onside to deliver a shot from a tight angle that Lloris had parried away.
Ibrahima Konate replaced a tired Varane as Argentina entered a time-wasting routine with eight minutes remaining. Varane had to be carried off the field. Paredes was fortunate to receive merely a caution after sliding in on Camavinga with his studs up as Scaloni made his second substitution, bringing on German Pezzela to take the place of Mac Allister.
With less than five minutes remaining, Montiel used his arm to deflect a goal-bound shot from a corner, resulting in an uncontested penalty that Mbappe converted to equalize the score at 3-3. What a game it had become by this time.
Acuna won a corner on the left with only one minute remaining to go, and Messi went up to take it. Mbappe’s cross-shot went just past the far post after his outswinger generated a commotion in the box, which France cleared with a boot.
Following the 120-minute mark, there were three additional minutes. Both teams made substitutions with penalties in mind: Axel Disasi replaced Kounde, and Paulo Dybala replaced Tagliafico. Both defenses were overworked, and both teams wasted opportunities to end the game immediately, so it was always going to come down to the shootout.
After ten games in less than a month at this Lusail Stadium, France chose to shoot first, and the shootout took place in the goal area that was unblemished.
Emi Martinez once more got a hand to it but was unable to save Mbappe’s fourth goal of the game and third penalty. When Messi saw Lloris leap, he positioned the ball the other way to tie the score.
When Coman went up to take the second penalty, Martinez easily parried it away because Coman’s shot was badly struck. Argentina went ahead 2-1 when a substitute, Dybala, hit the target square in the center.
As Tchouameni approached to take his penalty kick, Emi Martinez maintained his well-known mind tricks by holding onto the ball before throwing it away. The Real Madrid midfielder’s shot hit the outside of the left post, proving that it was successful. To make it 3-1, Paredes sent a shot past Lloris, and Argentina was one goal away from victory.
In order to keep the game exciting, Kolo Muani smashed his effort straight down the middle. However, Montiel was given the opportunity to win the match, and the fullback delivered to give Lionel Messi his first World Cup championship. With Argentina, Lionel Messi has now captured a major championship in each of the previous two years, winning his first Copa America in 2021 and now adding a World Cup trophy to his impressive resume.
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