(Doha) The 2022 World Cup ended this Sunday in apotheosis with a legendary final won by Lionel Messi’s Argentina over Kylian Mbappé’s France, the outcome of a month of football full of surprises, like the epic of Morocco, and dotted with of spectacular parades of several of the best goalkeepers.
Argentina-France in legend, the coronation of Messi
Argentina-France: the qualifiers are missing to evoke the victory of the Albiceleste (3-3 ap, 4 record to 2), at the end of one of the great games in the history of football.
Two goals from Lionel Messi. Kylian Mbappé hat trick. The stars were at the appointment of a crazy party.
While the Argentines went ahead 2-0 thanks to their penalty (23me) and a goal from his favorite lieutenant Ángel Di María (36me), the other star of this World Cup, Kylian Mbappé returned his team to the top in a few seconds (80me81me). Then Messi saw how the French hit their second penalty of the afternoon (118me) while the Argentinian had just returned the advantage to his team and harangued his audience (109me).
But after four failures since 2006, this time it was the evening that has delighted football lovers for so long. For a triumph at the end of the suspense that offers a third star to the Albiceleste after the titles of 1978 and 1986.
And that crowns the immense career of Messi, immediately named the best player of the tournament, to the delight of his millions of followers around the world.
Before this coronation, the 35-year-old boy from Rosario had won everything in clubs, especially with FC Barcelona. But with his selection, he settled for a Copa América (2021). This world title makes him join the legend of Maradona, “el pibe de Oro”. He also surpasses Pelé, with thirteen goals in five editions of the highest soccer competition.
Mbappé, top scorer
The battle for the World Cup top scorer trophy was also played out on Sunday: before the match, Messi and Mbappé, the two superstars of Paris SG, were in the lead (5 goals each).
Mbappé ended up standing out with eight goals in total by scoring a hat-trick, while the Argentine ‘settled’ for scoring two goals.
Mbappé became the second player to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final on Sunday, after England’s Geoff Hurst against Germany in 1966.
With twelve goals in two appearances (plus two assists in the 2022 edition), the 23-year-old equals the legend Pelé to become the sixth-highest goalscorer in World Cup history.
The epic of Morocco, a first for Africa
Driven by an impressive popular fervor, Morocco broke a glass ceiling by reaching the quarterfinals of a World Cup, the first time for an African team.
“We had this energy from the Africans, from the Arab world, who send us these positive waves that mean that at some point everyone wants this team to win,” Moroccan coach Walid Regragui savored.
The Atlas Lions impressed throughout the tournament, ending up winning 4me place: first in group F without defeats, then successive victories against Spain (0-0 in time, 3 penalties to 0) in the round of 16 and Portugal (1-0) in the quarterfinals, against two favourites.
The defeat in the semifinals against France (2-0) does not detract from the Moroccans, solid defensively and generous up front, who lost to Croatia on Saturday in the small final (2-1).
Amazing Saudis, Japanese, South Koreans
Atypical in its calendar with its frenetic pace and its programming at the end of the calendar year, the Mondial-2022 has blurred the benchmarks of the great nations and favored surprises, in addition to Morocco.
The Saudi Arabia of coach Hervé Renard thus defeated Argentina (2-1) in the opening, although the “Green Hawks” did not manage to get past the first round.
Japan, for their part, beat Germany (2-1) and Spain (2-1) in turn to finish at the top of a tough Group E, before falling eighth against Croatia (1-1 ap, 3 table a 1).
Finally, a mention for South Korea, which defeated Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal 2-1, as well as for Tunisia, which knocked down France (1-0), although the Blues were already classified and played with the substitute team.
Guardians in a state of grace
What if the best players from Mondial-2022 were in the cage? The goalkeepers stood out in Qatar, especially after the round of 16.
One statistic sums up its importance: a quarter of penalties (excluding shots on goal and off goal) were stopped at this World Cup, 5 of 23 against 4 of 29 four years earlier in Russia.
And Yassine Bounou (Morocco), Dominik Livakovic (Croatia), Emiliano “Dibu” Martínez (Argentina), Andries Noppert (Holland) or the experienced French captain Hugo Lloris were decisive in the match.
“It’s an extraordinary World Cup for goalkeepers,” said former Colombian international goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, a member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG). “The four goalkeepers who took their teams to the semifinals were all decisive, decisive, for their saves, but also for their contribution to the build. »
Inglourious eliminations of Germany and Belgium, failed exit of Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil eliminated in the quarterfinals without forgetting the attitude of the Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez at the end of the final: the failures of the World Cup in Qatar.
Brazil, failed again
There are, therefore, five finals in a row that the Brazilian players have seen on television. Unpublished since after Pelé and a long absence of five editions (1974 to 1990).
For Neymar, perhaps a destiny lies ahead in Zico, that of the “great player” who has never won a title with the Seleçao.
But Brazil can believe it by 2026, with an army of young talents, Richarlison, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo.
Ronaldo, failed start
He arrived as a superstar, captain of a team that was contending for the title; He left in tears, an old footballer relegated to the substitute bench, eliminated by Morocco (1-0) in the quarterfinals and deprived of a club for the moment.
His famous interview before the World Cup accelerated his divorce from Manchester United. It is very likely that Ronaldo will have to cry for another shirt: Portugal.
A man of records, he still left Qatar with that of the only player in history to have scored a goal in at least five World Cups.
Belgium, used generation
Enthusiastic semi-finalist in 2018, hopeless in 2022. Sad spectacle given by Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and other Eden Hazard.
The last chance for the “golden generation” went down the path of the cross between internal dissensions, obsolete coach and poor show. Lukaku’s incredible failures against Croatia (0-0), synonymous with elimination from the group stage, seemed like imminent justice.
Another bankruptcy, that of the Mannschaft: for the second time in a row, Germany left the group stage. History… And a worrying year and a half of the Eurocup at home.
Spain, the hackneyed “tiki taka”
There was a time when the “tiki taka”, that style of play made up of long possessions and short passes, was presented as the alpha and omega of soccer.
With the “made in Spain” seal, it is the signature of the glorious era of Spanish football, consecrated by a world title (2010) and two Euro Cups (2008 and 2012). But the ‘Red’ then had a fundamental ingredient in football: a scorer of the caliber of Fernando Torres and David Villa, to materialize all that possession.
The “tiki taka” version of Luis Enrique became a caricature and boredom. Against Morocco, the game of his elimination on penalties, he accumulated 967 successful passes (too often from the side)… for a single shot on goal and zero goals in one hundred and twenty minutes.
Coach Luis Enrique has been removed from his position and his successor Luis de la Fuente has promised to integrate “new concepts”… into a “non-negotiable” game model.
In a World Cup poor in yellow cards and exclusions, Argentine and Dutch players offered a rare face of aggressiveness during the quarterfinals won on penalties by Albiceleste (2-2).
With 18 yellow cards, fifteen of them during the match and the rest in the insult-filled fights that followed, they broke a record.
Special mentions in the lack of elegance to the Dutch who went to divert the shooters from the opposite goal, and, on the Argentine side, to the violence of the midfielder Leandro Paredes and the chamber of the opponents beaten after the qualification.
Even the placid Messi on foot “unleashed”, with an insult thrown directly at a rival: “What are you looking at, fool? (“What are you looking at, idiot?”)
Qatar overwhelmed host
Never has a host country been eliminated after just two games. No one was very sure what side this fun selection was going to show, which was prepared behind closed doors for six months.
From the opening match, the spectators were fixed in half an hour, enough for Ecuador to go ahead 2-0 and the stadium to be empty, a devastating spectacle in the World Cup… With seven goals conceded for one scored, the Qatari players were no better than his followers.
Obscene gesture and provocative celebrations.
If the drama of the impressive final between Argentina and France has delighted soccer fans around the world, the behavior of the albiceleste goalkeeper has shocked.
In the midst of the euphoria of the delivery of the “Golden Glove” trophy, which rewards the best goalkeeper of the tournament, Emiliano Martínez started a fun celebration on the podium, placing the hand-shaped object at the height of his crotch.
Returning to the party in the locker room with the rest of the squad, he then did not hesitate to openly dish out French superstar Kylian Mbappé: “A minute of silence… for Mbappé”, chanted the Argentine players, “Dibu” Martínez up front. .
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