Lionel Messi has led Argentina to the 2022 FIFA World Cup trophy after Argentina defeated France 4-2 on penalties at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.
The 88,000-capacity Lusail Stadium was lit for the much-anticipated World Cup final. A swarm of dignitaries and high-profile individuals led by French President Emmanuel Macron, multi-billion dollar investor Elon Musk, legendary Brazil footballer Ronaldinho, and others were in the stands awaiting the kickoff.
Despite becoming the first team to lose its opening game as the host country, Qatar deserves accolades for successfully hosting the prestigious tournament.
The two teams were not lucky to be in the final. It was a feat well deserved. Finishing the group games with six points each, the two teams were fantastic en route to the final.
Argentina eliminated Australia, Netherlands, and Croatia, while France defeated Poland, England, and Morocco to reach the final.
It was a crunch tie. Both teams have won the World Cup twice in history and were looking for a third trophy. A win for France would have placed them on par with Italy and Brazil, the only two countries that have defended the World Cup trophy.
All eyes was on Lionel Messi. It will be a great way to end his international career with a World Cup trophy after he confirmed the match would be his last World Cup game with Argentina.
Meanwhile, both teams boast of great quality and have a rich World Cup history between them. While France was playing in their fourth World Cup final, Argentina was in its sixth World Cup final.
The two teams have clashed three times in the World Cup, with Argentina winning twice and France once.
In all competitions, the two teams have met 12 times, and France have won only three times. The final at the Lusail Stadium was their 13th meeting.
Lionel Scaloni altered the team that won against Croatia, bringing on Angel Di Maria for Paredes. Didier Declschamp returned to his regular starting lineup, with Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot returning to the team after missing the semifinal against Morocco due to illness.
Argentina: Emiliano Martinez; Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico; Angel Di Maria, Rodrigo De Paul, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister; Lionel Messi, Julian Alvarez.
France: Hugo Lloris; Jules Kounde, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.
Lionel Scaloni got his tactics and strategy right from the start. Argentina perfectly silenced France in the midfield. Marc Allister and Enzo Fernandes were incredible headaches for Rabiot and Tchouameni.
Lionel Messi was again on top of his game. The Argentines dominated proceedings, crippled the middle of the park, and cut off links to Kylian Mbappe.
It was a bit frustrating for Didier Deschamps. The French side had no shot on target throughout the first half. It was all Argentina affair. Perfect moves by Messi. He easily ripped apart the French midfield and located Angel Di Maria down the right flank at ease.
Kounde fell off rating in front of Di Maria. He was threatening down the flank and was instrumental in the build-up to the first goal.
After dribbling past Dembele, Di Maria charged into the box, and the Barcelona forward has his leg clutched Di Maria’s inside the box. A penalty was awarded, and Lionel Messi converted easily, sending Hugo Lloris in the wrong direction.
Argentina took a deserved early lead. It was thought Les Bleus would mount an immediate response, but Didier Deschamps stood confused in the touchline as Argentina continued to dominate proceedings.
Upamecano was perfect on one-on-one marking with Lionel Messi, but Enzo Fernandez and Marc Allister were great backups foiling the French attacking momentum.
Antoine Griezmann was more of a confused middleman than the perfect and brilliant box-to-box midfielder that has won man-of-the-match awards. He was overwhelmed and had no way to Dembele, Mbappe, and Giroud.
Argentina held sway all through and bagged another goal in the 36th minute. Upamecano had lost possession, and the Albiceleste broke on a quick counter. Lionel Messi flicks it to Marc Alister, who sends a through ball to Angel Di Maria. Hugo Lloris rushed out of the goalpost to stop the ball, but Di Maria was faster than him. He slots past him to score Argentina’s second.
A desperate Didier Deschamps subs off Giroud and Dembele for Thuram and Kolo Muani, but Argentina maintained the lead into the break. Lionel Messi was 45 minutes away from crowing his heroic international football career with a World Cup trophy.
Argentina picked up from where they left the game in the first half. From all indications, France was far from matching the Argentines. Lionel Scaloni’s men were just too good for Didier Deschamps’s boys. Messi’s authority in the midfield was unrivaled.
After what appeared to be a fruitless and clueless display from France, Didier Deschamps made another substitution that changed the game for France. Griezmann and Theo Hernandez were subbed off for Coman and Camavinga in the 71st minute.
The French side gathered enough momentum upfront as the Argentines went on the defensive. Heavy pressure finally yielded results for France. Kolo Muani was tightly marked and brought down by Otamendi in the box. A penalty was awarded to France, and Kylian Mbappe converted it, bringing the scoreline to 2-1 with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
Just a minute after the goal, Coman dispossessed Lionel Messi in the halfway line. He immediately switched to the left and located Kolo Muani with a long ball. A quick one-two between Kolo Muani and Kylian Mbappe saw the French star delivered a powerful volley into the net to tie the game on a 2-2 draw. What a brilliant display by France!
Eight minutes of injury time was added, but the game ended on a 2-2 draw, with both sides heading into extra time.
It was an electric extra time. Lionel Messi restored Argentina’s lead in the 108th minute. Kylian Mbappe rose to the occasion again, scoring from a penalty spot After Argentina conceded another penalty to bring the scoreline to a 3-3 draw.
The match went into penalty shootouts. Argentina won 4-2 after the penalty shootout to lift their third World Cup trophy, with Coman and Tchouaméni missing France’s spot-kicks.