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World Cup: Mbappé's Blues drop their star, Messi makes it sparkle


France's third star dreams were shattered by Argentina's fury on Sunday (3-3 aet, 4-2 pens), after a legendary final between two football stars, the disappointed prince Kylian …

Below the dizzying stands of the Lusail stadium, a symbol of Qatar's excess, the comet Mbappé and the star Messi fought an unbreathable battle for more than 120 minutes, and until the penalty shootout, a clash that will go down in World Cup history.

A hat-trick for the Frenchman (80th sp, 81st, 118th sp), a double for the Argentinian (22nd sp, 109th), and a fantastic atmosphere until the end, sublimated by the tens of thousands of excited Albiceleste fans ... Why did this final have to give birth to a winner and a loser?

Irrational, this evening of December 18 will forever remain that of Messi, unable to hide his tears after the meeting, under the fireworks of Lusail.

Argentina player and captain Lionel Messi holding the FIFA World Cup after Argentina's victory on penalties against France on December 18, 2022 at Lusail Stadium in Qatar © Adrian DENNIS / AFP

With this first world title, Argentina's third after 1978 and 1986, the "Pulga" now presides over the Albiceleste legends table, with Diego Maradona at his side.

A glorious twilight for a football artist, 36 years after the coronation of "Dios".

In the upper echelons of football, you needed a loser.

Kylian Mbappé is perhaps the most unlikely, because you don't usually score a hat-trick in the World Cup final to finish on the second step of the podium.

Mbappé, hat-trick and disillusionment

Yet this is the scenario that history has reserved for "Kyky", Pelé's equal with 12 goals at the World Cup, top scorer of the edition (8 units), but deprived of an incredible double 2018-2022, unprecedented since Brazil in 1962. The mine closed, he received his "Golden Shoe" under the boos of the public...

The N.10 has nothing to reproach himself for: he scored his shot on goal after having illuminated the Blues with two penalties (80th, 118th) and a sumptuous half-volley (81st), to put a unrecognizable and apathetic team.

France player Kylian Mbappé after his team lost to Argentina on penalties in the 2022 FIFA World Cup final at Lusail Stadium in Qatar on December 18, 2022. © Odd ANDERSEN /AFP

By blowing out his 24 candles on Tuesday, the Paris SG striker will know what separates him from football legends: nothing at all, or almost.

He will also think that in 2026, he will only be 27 years old...

Because fate changed on penalties, of course, and it was then Emiliano Martinez, clever goalkeeper of the Albiceleste, who played his part wonderfully, stopping Kingsley Coman's shot and seeing that of Aurélien Tchouaméni flee the frame.

Didier Deschamps and his title holders had withstood all the storms, after an autumn marked by the injuries of important players (Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kanté, Presnel Kimpembe...).

The last jolt was too much, after an end to the tournament polluted by fatigue and a mysterious virus, which reduced several executives, to a still uncertain degree.

But can the millions of French people in front of their televisions blame this fighting and resilient French team?

Young people have tried everything

The coach, who will have to decide if he wants to return for a new mission - the answer is up to him - missed the last step, but he knew how to form a group that no one imagined would get there.

France coach Didier Deschamps after his team lost on penalties to Argentina in the 2022 FIFA World Cup final at the Lusail stadium in Qatar on December 18, 2022. © Paul ELLIS / AFP

Until the end, he tried to find the parade: his tactical choices from the 41st minute almost proved him right.

By replacing Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembélé with Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram from the 41st minute, "DD" may have deprived the top scorer of the Blues (36) of his last moments in the tricolor jersey, but he gave back a blows to this French team, reminding them that they should not rely only on their captains.

"Kolo" and "Tikus" sounded the revolt in a deafening end to the match... They too end in the sadness of the losers.

With this new generation, the foundations for the future are laid, even if it will be necessary to see, in March, if all the old ones (Hugo Lloris, Giroud, Benzema) are still on the trip.

From Moscow to Doha, in four years the Blues have known the greatest joy and the greatest disillusionment.

But to know the emotion of the winner and that of the loser, you have to experience the finals: France has had four of them out of the last seven editions... And already, it dreams of a fifth.

© 2022 AFP

Source: france24

All news articles on 2022-12-18

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