The Qatar World Cup is finally over, and fans were treated to one of the best finals in living memory to bring the curtain down on the action. However, ultimately, France was unable to successfully defend the World Cup that they won in Russia four years ago, as they fell to Argentina in the most dramatic of penalties. It was the first World Cup win since 2002 for a South American team.
But, where did it all go wrong for France and how can they prepare for the upcoming European Championships in just under 18 months?
France Fail To Fire In Final
The 2022 World Cup final will live long in memory as one of the best tournament finals in history. However, for a long time, it looked as though the final was going to pass the French by without them eventually managing to land a glove on Lionel Messi’s Argentina. France may be known for their rich history, best French casinos, and cuisine, but those betting on the game would have been getting an astronomical price on France beating Argentina after 80 minutes of play. Messi was influential throughout the first half, as the PSG forward scored the opening goal from the penalty spot after 23 minutes, before playing his part in a stunning second; eventually scored by Angel Di Maria.
Didier Deschamps tried everything to get Les Blues back into the contest, with Ousmane Dembele and Oliver Giroud both dragged off before the halftime whistle. However, the second half didn’t get much better for the French as they continued to be passive. In fact, they didn’t manage a single shot on target until they were handed a golden opportunity from the penalty spot with ten minutes remaining.
Kylian Mbappe didn’t waste the opportunity to give France a lifeline, and just over a minute later, the French were level in the most dramatic of fashions. Mbappe scored the wonderful volley, which enabled France to once again dream that they could retain their title.
Extra time was required after the 2-2 draw after 90 minutes, and it looked as though Argentina had claimed victory for the second time when Messi scrambled the ball home from close range. However, the drama in Qatar wasn’t over, as Mbappe was handed a golden opportunity to level the scores once again from the penalty spot.
The PSG forward once again showed his unbelievable character to fire home past Emiliano Martinez. However, French fans will be reliving the final seconds of the game every night for the foreseeable future, as they were given a glorious opportunity to win the World Cup. However, Martinez produced one of the all-time best saves in a World Cup final, as he stretched out to deny Randal Kolo Muani. That save meant that the World Cup was to be decided from the penalty spot for only the third time in history.
France Lose Cool From The Spot
Penalty shootouts are always a lottery, but in Martinez, Argentina had a goalkeeper that was more than skilled in this situation. Mbappe went first and netted to give France an early lead, but misses from Aurelien Tchouameni and Kingsley Coman effectively meant that the World Cup was Argentina’s to lose. The win was secured with the eighth penalty, as Gonzalo Montiel etched his name into the history books with the winning spot-kick.
However, there would certainly be a feeling that this was a missed opportunity for France. Despite being outplayed for 80 minutes, they got themselves back into the game thanks to the brilliance of Mbappe, before then squandering the chance that they would have been dreaming of in the final seconds of extra time. But, there is little doubt that this is a France team that will continue to be a force in major tournaments for years to come.
Conclusion- What’s Next For France?
All the French attention will now turn toward whether Deschamps will continue on as manager. Reports were circulating before the World Cup that the successful manager could leave the role after the tournament in Qatar, with Zinedine Zidane being lined up to replace the 54-year-old.
However, should Zidane come in, there is every chance that France will once again be a key contender when the EUROs get underway in Germany in 2024. Mbappe, Tchouameni, and Eduardo Camavinga will once again make for one of the strongest spines of any European nation, and the conveyor belt of talent coming out of the country ensures that there will be even more chances for success in the coming tournaments. Therefore, few would be surprised to see France emerge as a leading contender for the EUROs in 18 months.