Just like that, we have come to the end of the most accessible World Cup in history. One in which fans could travel to more than one game on the same day, and teams could efficiently get to the stadiums.
The Final got played, awards got given, and Lionel Messi finally managed to lift the trophy he has longed for since the start of his career.
Although many aspects of the tournament have been questionable, it’s hard to argue with the levels of excitement and quality throughout, barring a few dull goalless draws.
The first half of the Final can be summed up in just a few sentences.
Argentina got yet another questionable penalty, and Messi scored, 1-0.
France then conceded an excellent team goal, 2-0.
Deschamps decided to take off Giroud and Dembele to try and get a foothold in a game they were being dominated in by Argentina.
The second half followed a similar path when suddenly Nicolas Otamendi got turned by and then fouled Kolo Muani. Penalty, but where was the red card for being the last man? 2-1.
A minute later, Messi got dispossessed of the ball near the sideline. The ball made it to Mbappe who half-volleyed home. 2-2.
What followed was the most breathtaking and relentless 40+ minutes in the history of the World Cup. The two sides continued to look for the win, with Messi scoring to put Argentina ahead with his 7th goal of the tournament. 3-2. It looked like it would be enough as Varane needed to be subbed off with exhaustion and Rabiot got taken off with a precautionary head injury. As the clock ticked closer to the end, the Argentinians started doing what the Argentinians do best, unsportsmanlike behavior. That’s when, out of nowhere, France was awarded a penalty which Mbappe slotted home once again, 3-3. Then came what would prove to be a defining part of the final when Emiliano Martinez made an incredible save from Muani as the timer clicked past 123 minutes. The ball went up the other end of the field only for Lautaro Martinez to miss from 7 yards.
Penalties it was!
With E. Martinez in goal for Argentina, you could guarantee two things; he will save a penalty and be very unsportsmanlike about it. Both of which he was!
Misses from Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni proved decisive. Gonzalo Montiel slotted home the winning pen.
Argentina won 4-2 on penalties.
In the end, Lionel Messi lifted the trophy that most people seemed happy for him to lift.
It seemed like it took forever to get to the presentation ceremony as players waited on the pitch.
Eventually, when we got to the ceremony, the awards were given.
Enzo Fernández got the young player of the tournament…ok, sure.
Emiliano Martínez got another opportunity to show the world what kind of person he is by holding the Golden Glove between his legs to imitate a penis. Class act
So, to summarise those two awards for any young players coming through the ranks, you can win awards without fair play. In fact, unsportsmanlike behavior is rewarded by FIFA.
Mbappe took the Golden Boot with eight goals, and Messi received his second Golden Ball – this one truly deserved.
The presentation ceremony came to an end with the greatest player of the current generation winning his one, and likely only World Cup to fill the void he has had for almost two decades.
The World Cup should never have been given to Qatar. No matter what happens on the pitch, that is something that has to be accepted, however, the tournament organizers managed to put on an incredible event.
In the end, the lack of alcohol at the tournament meant that the British fans were able to stay out of trouble which was a great positive.
The football itself was amazing with plenty of goals, and exciting games, all capped off with the best World Cup Final I have ever witnessed, and I’m sure many of you will say the same, too.
In four years we will be in Canada, the USA, and Mexico. The tournament will need to go some way to beat the drama of Qatar, but what I am more interested to see is if western media will be putting pressure on the host nations to change their women’s rights and gun laws.
Whatever happens in four years I am confident that there will be a lot more violence amongst fans due to alcohol, and a lot fewer questions asked about the politics of the host nations. On the field, the World Cup will remain as exciting as ever which is why FIFA can literally do anything it wants and we the fans will forget all about it as soon as the whistle blows for the start of the tournament.
That’s all four years away…
So for now, let’s just leave you with the one image that matters…