A FINAL FOR THE AGES
As the World Cup in Qatar comes to a dramatic end, there are moments in this tournament that will be remembered for generations to come. A World Cup that provided plenty on and off the field (even before a single ball was kicked). However, it is the on-field spectacle that we all love and enjoy and this World Cup did not disappoint. We saw the first major Men’s tournament officiated by an all Women team of referees (to be fair they did pretty well), an African side got through to the Semi-Finals (an historic moment for Morocco and the Continent of Africa) and who knows, maybe in 4 years they or another nation will go one better.
We witnessed the end of a golden generation as Belgium failed to impress. I feel they have missed their opportunities in previous tournaments and will wait another decade for another generation to ascend. We saw Ghana get redemptions of sorts over Uruguay and Luis Suarez who was the villain of the pantomime when they last met at the World Cup in 2010 when Suarez handled the ball which effectively scarpered the Black Stars changes of progressing to the semi-finals at that tournament.
I heard an Italian fan once commented that a World Cup is not a World Cup without Italy, but I would have to disagree with this statement. I believe the only team synonymous with the World Cup is Brazil. Unfortunately, Neymar was unable to inspire his team to the summit and achieve World Cup glory as they bowed out to a very robust and capable Croatia side led by one Luka Modric (a legend in his own right). We cannot forget England also, the Three Lions did the nation proud once again and although they were beaten by finalists France in the quarter finals, you can’t help but feel it’s another opportunity missed (what is it with England and penalties…..the mind boggles).
There was talk of a possible G.O.A.T decider between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo should both Argentina and Portugal advance to the final. However, what transpired was how clear the golf was between the two players. Messi got better and better the more the tournament progressed and you had a sense that ‘it was written in the stars’ and this was his moment. Whereas Ronaldo projected an image of deflation, a Man who will always be regarded as one of the best players of all time but certainly not categorised in the league of Messi, Maradona and the great Pele. Ronaldo’s anti-climax saw him relegated to the bench for Portugal which juxtaposed the end to his second spell at Manchester United.
In actuality what we got was a swansong and a changing of the guard. Messi gave us one last blast whilst Mbappe showed us why he is the King of this current generation. The stage was set as Argentina and France graced the field of dreams and delivered what I believe (and I am sure many will agree) to be the greatest World Cup final of all time. It had goals, drama, intensity and entertainment right the way through to the very end. The stakes were high. Should France be victorious, they become only the second team in history to have won the World Cup back to back and Mbappe would have his second World Cup winners medal at just 23 years of age (absolutely incredible). However, should Argentina win, they would now have three World Cup titles to their name and victory would undoubtedly solidify Messi as the greatest player of all time.
The game ended 3-3 after extra time meaning a penalty shootout beckoned. Argentina won the shoot out 4-2 with goalkeeper Martinez performing heroics once again. Whilst, France may have lost, they will be back again for sure and Mbappe (golden boot winner) will have every chance of winning two more World Cups. The French have an array of upcoming talent and will be strong again in the next encounter.
For now though, the moment belongs to Argentina but most notably Lionel Andres Messi, THE GREATEST FOOTBALLER OF ALL TIME!!!! SALUTE!