Argentina narrowly defeats France and wins the 2022 World Cup


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Jaeden Pinder and Emily Shafer

Argentina won the 2022 FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1986 and defeated 2018 titleholder France after a 4-2 penalty score broke the 3-3 tie on Dec. 18. The final was largely defined by two narratives, that of team captain and fan-favorite Lionel Messi and rising star Kylian Mbappé, both believed to be two of the greatest current footballers. 

Messi has played in each tournament since 2006, so Argentina’s run in Qatar was considered by many to be Messi’s final chance to win the title. Messi, 35, is likely to retire from the national team, but is speculated to play for Paris St. Germain, alongside Mbappé, for the foreseeable future. 

Mbappé, 23, played in the 2018 World Cup for France where he received the Best Young Player award at age 19. Throughout the 2022 tournament, Mbappé was indispensable to France’s advancement to the final. He also joined England’s Geoff Hurst as the second player in history to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final. 

Despite Argentina’s impressive lead in the first half of the game–due to a penalty kick by Messi and a goal from open play by Ángel Di María–Mbappé, with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game, scored two goals within one minute of each other, leveling the score at 2-2 and leading them to 30 minutes of extra time.

In extra time, Messi scored his second goal, giving Argentina a 3-2 lead, though only shortly before Mbappé scored his third goal of the game, again tying the match with only five minutes remaining.

Despite both teams battling for the lead, the game went to a penalty shootout round after the 3-3 tie from Mbappé. 

When the fate of a game lies within penalty kicks, each team has five chances to score against the opposing goalie. Whoever scores the most penalty kicks wins the game. France started, as they won the coin toss. After two goals from France, three goals from Messi and two misses from France, Argentina only needed to make one of their two remaining goals to win the World Cup. Gonzalo Montiel, Argentine player #4, made the final penalty kick against France, scoring the winning goal for Argentina. 

In the closing ceremony, Messi received the Golden Ball award for best player in the tournament, and fellow teammates Enzo Fernandéz and Emiliano Martinez received the best young player and Golden Glove awards, respectively. Mbappé was the highest scorer overall, with eight goals, earning him the Golden Boot Award.

The next FIFA Men’s World Cup will be jointly held in Canada, the United States and Mexico, and will be expanded to include 48 teams in the summer of 2026. The women’s national soccer teams will play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.