By: Aeden Evenson-McDermott
Following the semifinal clash between Argentina and Croatia on December 13, Croatia would set their eyes on a piece of silverware to end the tournament with. This would be the 3rd place bronze medal.
On December 14, Morocco faced France and lost which matched them up to play Croatia for the third place game. It would ultimately be a rematch from the first group stage game as they tied 0-0 towards the beginning of the World Cup.
A big hats off to Morocco on being the first African team to make it this far in a World Cup. Most counted Croatia out before the tournament started but they once again persevered and showed they could medal in back to back World Cups.
On Saturday, December 17, the stage was set for a showdown at the Khalifa International Stadium which would compose itself of 44,000+ supporters in attendance.
It would kick off with the 10 first minutes being an absolute drama to see. A free kick early for the Croats had Modrić fake the kick with Majer following up to swing the ball over the top to Perišić who cocked his neck which headed it furthermore to the outstretched rising star and young talent center back, Joško Gvardiol, who would perfectly connect the force of the ball into the back of the net.
1-0 to Croatia! The lead wouldn’t last for long as Morocco would respond when the deflected ball went through the defenders and fell into Archaf Dari’s path and he headed it through the hands of Croatian goalkeeper Livaković. 1-1 and it was a game!
Later on though, in the first half, just before halftime, Croatia’s Mislav Orsić had an incredible first touch kick that was chipped over the keeper and dinked off the inner near post of the goal and it to the net. 2-1 to the Croatians!
The rest of the second half would be less entertaining with both sides each exchanging posessional turns but none resulting in a score. It was dramatic at times with both sides holding their breaths as each took chances on the counter attacks along the wings.
At the end of the 90 minutes of regulation, Croatia’s World Cup dreams would be fulfilled. They didn’t ultimately get first or second place like their World Cup in 2018, but they have much to be proud of. Modrić, who’s 37, is likely going to retire from international duty within the next year, so it was a nice send off for him as he has done so much for the team and country.
After Argentina beat Croatia and France beat Morocco their sights would be set on the ultimate prize. The World Cup trophy! The trophy touched by greats but revered for all could be Messi’s or it could be Mbappé’s. Who would achieve greater success?
The first half kicked off with Argentina being the more dominant side and exposing the French team near the goal. In the 23rd minute, Argentina’s Lionel Messi would convert the early penalty to give the Argentines the early lead. 1-0!
A little bit later, a second goal would be added as Angel Dí Maria would slot his goal and make it 2-0 Argentina. The excitefulness quieted down a bit but Argentina still remained in the driver’s seat.
France would show more quality as they picked up chances along the stretch. It would all turn in their favor when in the 80th minute, Mbappé would discreetly put the ball just through Martinez’s hands and into the net. 2-1.
The craziest turn of events would only be beginning and a minute later, Mbappé found himself on the end of another immaculate ball whipped in, and which he would convert through a sideways bicycle kick and into the back of the net! 2-2 and all was tied up.
This would prompt an additional 30 minutes of extra time at the end of the regulation 90 minutes. An early shout for a penalty, into extra time, on the edge of the box had many raising their eyebrows as to why that wasn’t a penalty for France?
Furthermore, Argentina would scramble down the field and Messi would score another decisive goal in the 108th minute to give Argentina the 3-2 advantage. If you didn’t think that put the nail in the coffin, you were in for a treat!
France wouldn’t go down without a fight and Mbappé would bag a hat trick of goals, when he bagged the third one, which again was another penalty in the 118th minute of extra time!
Now, since it was 3-3, and it would be the end of the 120 minutes total, it would be going to penalties!
Messi and Mbappé would each convert their first penalties of the shootout. Dybala of Argentina would convert his while Coman of France would miss his. This followed by Paredes scoring his and Tchouameni missing his. Muani of France would make his to keep his team alive but seconds later Montiel of Argentina would rise to the occasion and ultimately seal the fate of France, thus Argentina winning the World Cup!
A deep breath and sigh of relief after such an intense final match!
Messi is the GOAT and certainly deserves this after the incredible career he’s had. His brilliance never disappoints and alway shows how he has so much to prove and still has gas left in the tank for his aging legs.
Back to back medals for Croatia and France and a third World Cup trophy in the books for Argentina!
In terms of the play at The Qatar World Cup, it certainly didn’t disappoint. I would make the case that this was the best World Cup final ever, although I wouldn’t say it was the best World Cup.
Congrats to all the teams on making it a memorable World Cup to watch, and here’s to a good World Cup in North America in 2026, and it remains to be seen after that (the 2030 World Cup has yet to be announced).
With the World Cup coverage now ended, more articles will be coming out on transfers and the resuming of club football!