The FIFA World Cup final will be remembered for a long time, thanks to the heartstopping thrills and the drama it offered up to the very end. Argentina have finally won the trophy it had pursued fruitlessly for 32 years, half of that period under Lionel Messi. The final was a heartbreak for another peerless champion, Kylian Mbappe, who gave his all and a hatrick but watched helplessly as others fell short in the penalty shootout. For Messi, at the fag end of his career, this was a tryst with destiny.
All the paens about being the G.O.A.T. had little meaning without a World Cup win under his belt and Messi knew that better than everyone. Argentina’s path to the final required Messi’s generalship of an industrious team every step of the way and he didn’t disappoint even once.
In the end, France’s comeback from 2 down to 2-2 and 3-2 in extra time to 3-3 quickly and a lost golden chance to win the cup in the dying minutes, deflected through a desperate stretch by Argentine goalkeeper Emil Martinez, elevated the game to one of the greatest football matches of all time. Billed as a Messi vs Mbappe clash, both champions lived up to their giant repulations in a sterling manner.
The distraught Mbappe will come into the next World Cup as a veteran of two WC finals, and with no other player anywhere close to him in stature, if this is Messi’s last world cup. The curtains have come down on a month-long tournament that lived up to its billing as the greatest show on earth. Qatar can take pride at having delivered a great tournament after all the initial carping about how it won the bid. Over to North America for the 2026 cup.
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