Football & Management

It was Messi’s Moment, but Mbappe Brought the Magic

Is the GOAT Debate Settled?

Game. Set. Match! Lionel Messi has completed football. The greatest footballer of all time! These and many more littered across social media as encomiums poured in and are still pouring in for Lionel Messi after leading Argentina to their first world cup in 36 years.

While the world’s attention was fixated on Lionel Messi as he reached the peak of his football career, another player was etching his name in the book of history makers – Kylian Mbappe. The 24-year-old French international became the second-ever player in history to score a hattrick at a World Cup final, being the next to do it after George Hurst who scored a hattrick for England in the 1966 World Cup.

The World Cup final was an exhilarating encounter between Argentina and France that ended with Argentina winning 4-2 on penalties after regular time and extra time ended 3-3. With a Mbappe hattrick and a Messi brace, there was a lot of record matching as the game tied with France’s 4-2 win against Croatia in 2018 and England’s 4-2 win against West Germany in 1966 to be the World Cup final with the second highest number of goals. Brazil’s 5-2 win against Sweden still holds the title as the World Cup final with the highest number of goals.

Mbappe’s hat trick also shut him to the top of the scoring chart for the world cup final matches with 4 goals.

Kylian Mbappe world cup finals

At just 24 years of age, this is simply phenomenal. The game also broke the record for TV viewership which was previously held by the last world cup final between France and Croatia, a record 1.5 billion people viewed the final across the world.

Also Read: Qatar 2022 Final: Messi’s Moment or Mbappe Magic?

Match Breakdown

Argentina started the game on the front foot, with Di Maria calling the shots on the left wing of Argentina’s attack and eventually winning a penalty in the 20th minute after he was brought down by Dembele. Messi coolly converted the penalty and Argentina continued with their onslaught which earned them a second goal in the 36th minute with Di Maria converting a pass from McAllister after a deft pass from Messi.

Lionel Messi world cup finals In a desperate but tactical move, Didier Deschamps replaced Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud in the 40th minute with Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani. Despite trailing by 2 goals, France looked out of depth for most of the game until the 79th minute when Kolo Muani was fouled by Nicolas Otamendi in the 18-yard box. The goal brought a resurgence to the French team and 2 minutes later, Kylian Mbappe with a spectacular half-volley completed the comeback for France.

At the end of regular time, the game was on 2-2 and looked like it was heading into a penalty shootout, however, the Argentines had a different idea and in the 108th minute, Messi struck again. Luck shined on the French team again and an Argentine player handled the ball inside the box in the 117th minute leading to Mbappe completing his hat trick causing the game to end 3-3 after extra time. 

Is the GOAT Debate Settled?

Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi made the podium at the 2007 Ballon D’or behind Kaka, there has been a fan rivalry that has brewed into the “GOAT debate.” 15 years on, both players have stormed the football world, broken every record in place, and won almost every trophy available to them.

Also Read: Kylian Mbappe: Why Paris Saint-Germain believe star’s new €105m contract will pay for itself

However, despite doing almost all in football, Messi and Ronaldo both struggled to achieve the same level of club success with their national teams with both players winning zero international trophies till 2016 when Ronaldo won the UEFA Euros. Messi on the other hand had been unlucky in four international finals which included 3 Copa America finals and the 2014 World Cup final.

With 7 Ballon D’ors in hand, two more than Ronaldo, some will say Messi had peaked on the hill of individual greatness in football. And despite this height of individual achievement, fans loyal to Ronaldo still held over his head the absence of an international trophy. However, in 2021, Lionel Messi broke the jinx and won his first international trophy with Argentina when they won the Copa America.

Lionel Messi Now with Messi joining the prestigious list of world cup winners and Ronaldo already at the tail end of his football career, the question has shifted from “Who is the GOAT?” to “is the GOAT debate settled?” No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, the greatness of both players is undisputable and as both players wind up their careers, we can all say we saw greatness on display. 

Mbappe’s Magic

Some described the final of the 2022 World Cup as a Mbappe-Messi final, and the match truly lived up to its hype. Messi turned up and Mbappe turned up. With 8 goals and 2 assists, Mbappe ended the World Cup as the highest goal scorer winning the golden boot. He may not be the winner but the greatness of the young forward is not in doubt, and it remains to be seen what other records he will break as his career progresses. 

Thank You, Qatar!

Controversies, opinions, and political sentiments trailed Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup, with some media personalities calling for a boycott of the World Cup. However, from the 20th of November to the 18th of December, Qatar hosted a phenomenal tournament with a stellar opening ceremony and a dazzling closing ceremony where Nigeria’s Davido also performed the World Cup theme song.

The Qataris were wonderful hosts, and despite their national team not making it out of the group stage, they displayed good sportsmanship by turning up for other games. A lot of visitors were thrilled and entertained by the performers from across the world cup that was booked for the FIFA Fan Festival including Kizz Daniel and Patoranking from Nigeria.

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