·18 December 2022
·18 December 2022
One month, 63 matches and 30 eliminated teams later, the big moment had finally arrived: the World Cup final.
Plenty of interesting narratives were at stake in the clash between Argentina and France. Could Lionel Messi seal his status as the undisputed GOAT by winning the one trophy that has eluded him for his entire career? Or would France win back-to-back World Cups, becoming the first team to do so since 1962 and cementing Kylian Mbappe as the most successful 23-year-old footballer in history?
This was a game that had the whole world's attention, meaning Twitter was abuzz with activity before, during and after it.
Of course, all eyes were on Messi, who broke the record for most appearances at the men's World Cup and had his eyes on a first-ever World Cup win of his own.
Lionel Messi has now made 26 World Cup appearances. He has made more appearances in World Cup games than any other player in the history of the competition. All leading up to this. 🔟
Mind you, Messi wasn't the only one celebrating a milestone in this match - there was reason for France captain Hugo Lloris to be cheerful too.
History for Hugo Lloris 👏🇫🇷 With today's start for France, Lloris now has the most FIFA World Cup starts by a men's goalkeeper 🧤
Argentina dominated the opening 20 minutes as France dropped into their standard low block, and were rewarded for their persistence when Ousmane Dembele clumsily brought down Angel Di Maria in the penalty area. There was some debate over whether it was a foul, but truth be told Dembele was naïve to give the referee a decision in the first place.
Step forward Lionel Messi, who calmly rolled the resulting spot-kick home to score his sixth goal of this World Cup.
LIONEL MESSI FROM THE SPOT TO GIVE ARGENTINA THE LEAD IN THE WORLD CUP FINAL! IT'S HIS FIRST-EVER GOAL IN A MAJOR TOURNAMENT FINAL.
Lionel Messi is the first player to record 20 goal involvements in the #FIFAWorldCup (counting goals all-time and assists since 1966). He has scored in the quarter-final, semi-final and final in Qatar. #ARG
France had already given themselves an uphill battle - and it was about to get a whole lot worse.
Less than 15 minutes after the opening goal, Argentina made it 2-0 with a gorgeous counter-attack from back to front. This time, Di Maria was on the end of the final ball to fire past Lloris and put La Albiceleste in cruise control.
#FifaWorldCup #Qatar2022 Argentina lead by two goals in the first half! 🔥 What a move that was with Angel Di Maria finding the back of the net 👏 #ARG vs #FRA: https://t.co/B8zXIOKxIQ
Look what is means to Di Maria 🥺 He was in tears after scoring in the World Cup final 💙 🇦🇷 2-0 🇫🇷 #BBCFootball #BBCWorldCup
Tears of agony after losing the World Cup final in 2014 vs Tears of ecstasy after doubling Argentina's lead in the World Cup final in 2022 🇦🇷❤️ #FIFAWorldCup
With France in danger of collapsing entirely, many were quick to hark back to the rumours of a bug sweeping the French camp in the build-up to the match.
France were in full-on panic mode, and this was summed up by manager Didier Deschamps making a double change before half-time.
DOUBLE CHANGE 🔀 Dembele and Giroud off ❌ Thuram and Kolo Muani on ✅ https://t.co/SGZ72SL6QH #ARG | #FRA | #FIFAWorldCup
As goes without saying, first time ever a team has made two subs before half-time in a World Cup final. All the previous ones (I think) were also injuries
Ousmane Dembele has done a great job resurrecting his career in 2022 only to undo it with the worst World Cup final performance the world has ever seen
France looked shell-shocked at half-time. Did that really just happen? Were things really that bad?
As it turned out, the answer to both questions was a resounding 'yes'.
❌ 𝐱𝐆:0️⃣ ❌ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐬:0️⃣ ❌ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭:0️⃣ ❌ 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐱:0️⃣ ❌ 𝐓𝐨𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐬 𝐛𝐢𝐠 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬:0️⃣ ❌ 𝐓𝐨𝐮𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐨𝐩𝐩 𝐛𝐨𝐱:0️⃣ ❌ 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐬:0️⃣ #FRA's first half proves difficult reading for Didier Deschamps...
France worst first half of any finalist, including Bradford in the Capital One Cup, I’ve ever seen
The second half began with a much more cagey feel, France controlling the game a little more and denying Argentina as much space as they had in the first. But as we reached the hour mark, Les Bleus still hadn't registered a shot on target.
France haven't turned up yet 😬 0⃣ shots 0⃣ touches in the opposition penalty area 65' 🇦🇷 2-0 🇫🇷 #BBCFootball #BBCWorldCup
With 15 minutes of normal time to play, it was clear that a few fans had their eye on other things...
On the one hand, Alexis Mac Allister just dropped a masterclass in the biggest game of his career. On the other hand, the Valley can be an unforgiving ground to visit as an away side, so we can kind of see Daz's point here.
By the way, did we mention that France hadn't had a shot on target up to this point? Well, about that...
After a clumsy foul by Nicolas Otamendi inside the box, Mbappe stepped up to convert the subsequent penalty and hand France a lifeline. And then...
France had, miraculously, levelled the scores - and it all came down to the bravery Deschamps and his players showed in the face of a crushing defeat.
France played 4-2-4 for most of that second half. Bold from Deschamps, going for it paid off. He is carrying on in 4-2-4 for extra time.
15 minutes into extra time, these two heavyweights looked no closer to being separated. Could either side find a winner? Or would Countryfile fans be left heartbroken once again?
But there was (eventually) good news for fans of the other great programming available on the BBC, as Messi struck in the second half of extra time to send Argentina fans delirious.
Lionel Messi has taken back the spotlight from Kylian Mbappe. He puts Argentina in front to spark pandemonium in the stadium and across the world. #ARG lead #FRA 3-2; you wouldn't rule out another twist in the time that remains. 🎥 @BBCSport
Now, you're probably wondering if this is the end of the story, and whether I was able to submit my article after this and get some well-earned rest.
Reader, I was not. Enter Mbappe - again.
The match went to penalties, and at this point it hardly even mattered who won anymore. We were witnessing an unprecedented, mesmerising moment of complete footballing chaos.
This was quite possibly the greatest match our game has ever given us, and after 120 minutes most of us just felt lucky to be watching. France might have lost on the day, but in truth both sides were winners for delivering the most thrilling spectacle we may ever see in the sport.
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