Mustering a valiant and rallying effort to push Argentina all the way during last weekend’s 2022 FIFA World Cup final in Qatar, France remain betting favorites to clinch the Coupe du Monde in four years’ time in the tournament’s return to North America.
Attempting to become the first side to retain a FIFA World Cup since the iconic Brazil side of the 1950s, and 1960s, Didier Deschamps Bleus managed to turn around a two-nil deficit to level things at 3-3 after extra time, however, spot kick woes for the holders saw a Lionel Messi-led Argentina secure their third ever World Cup victory – the first tournament held since the passing of talismanic forward, Diego Maradona.
Blasting Argentina ahead from the penalty spot in the opening half an hour, Paris Saint Germain forward, Messi converted past Hugo Lloris – before Juventus wide man, Angel Di Maria found the net – shocking the holders in a quickfire double salvo.
With just 10 minutes remaining in normal time, however, France were handed a lifeline of their own in the form of a spot kick, with Kylian Mbappe converting himself.
Just moments later, Messi was dispossessed by Kingsley Coman, with fed Adrien Rabiot – with Mbappe linking up with Eintracht Frankfurt frontman, Randal Kolo Muani – before firing a right foot volley into Emiliano Martinez’s left corner, levelling the final.
Forced to extra time, Argentina once more took the lead – with Messi converting a spilt shot from Lloris, despite an attempted goal-line clearance from Barcelona defender, Jules Kounde.
With mere minutes remaining, Sevilla full back, Gonzalo Montiel handled a shot from Mbappe inside the area – with France awarded another lifeline. Converting from the spot to become just the second player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final, Mbappe forced respective spot kicks.
With both Mbappe, and Messi converting before misses from both Coman and Real Madrid youngster, Aurelian Tchouameni, a late effort from Kolo Muani proved fruitless, with Paulo Dybala, Leandro Paredes, and the above-mentioned, Montiel scoring the deciding penalty, sending the World Cup back to South America.
In four years’ time, however, the tournament will return to North America for the first time since USA ‘94 – with both Mexico and neighboring, Canada set to also host fixtures. And France still remains odds on favorites at 4/1 to lift the World Cup.
Following an impressive progression through a tough group containing England, Wales, and Iran, the USMNT – who have landed a new MLS partnership, are slated to turn in another highlight run – this time on home soil, however, remain distance outsiders to challenge with the elite.
Despite their victory over France in Sunday’s final, the incumbent best, Argentina find themselves as distinct outsiders to retain the World Cup and land gold for the fourth time, with markets offering the Albicelestes currently sit behind a group containing Brazil, England, Spain, and Germany at 9/1 to triumph Stateside in four years time.
Interestingly, most recent European Championships winners, Italy – who failed to qualify for Qatar, sit as high as 22/1 to repeat 2006 exploits and win the World Cup. Famously, on their last major tournament in North America at the 1994 incarnation of the World Cup, a skyward spot kick from former Juventus forward, Roberto Baggio at the Rose Bowl handed the trophy to Brazil in the final.