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Was this the Best World Cup game of All Time?

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

By Diego Perez-Torres

Photo by Zesan H. on Unsplash

On Dec. 18, 2022, the world stood still as they waited for Gonzalo Montiel to kick the penalty of his life and potentially win the world cup for Argentina. And as the ball hits the net, every Argentina fan in the world was ecstatic as their team just capped off what some argue to be one of the most historic World Cup finals games ever to be played. This game didn't just give Argentina their third world cup win, this game solidified Lionel Messi as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) and seemingly ended the debate between him and Ronaldo.

But this isn't the sole reason why his game had so much significance. This game also could give us the first back-to-back World Cup champions since 1962 when Brazil won back-to-back. Before that, Italy won two straight in the 1930s. The French team was led by superstar soccer players Kylian Mbappé and Hugo Lloris, the team captain and starting goalkeeper. The team's historic World Cup run for four years saw the emergence of Mbappé. The world witnessed him being the youngest teenager to score in the World Cup since Edson Arantes do Nascimento or, as most people know him, Pelé.

This year, the French team had its eyes set on repeating, but an Argentinian side led by Messi had other plans. The game started slow with a few missed opportunities by each side, but in the 20th minute, Angel Di Maria attacked the box with full aggression and got tripped up by French forward Ousmane Dembélé causing a penalty kick and giving Argentina an early opportunity to get the lead. And who else to kick this penalty than the Captain of the team Lionel Messi? Messi hit the ball low and l into the right side of the net to give Argentina an early 1-0 lead, and the chaos this game contained had officially begun.

Fifteen minutes later a counterattack started by Messi was finished off with a beautiful through pass to Di Maria to finish beautifully with a shot just getting by Hugo Lloris and giving Argentina a convincing 2-0 lead.

Then both sides go to halftime and what happened ended up being possibly one of the craziest halves that have been played in recent history.

The second half did not have a lot of action until the French superstar came in to save the day with two beautifully shot goals. One came in the 78th minute in the form of a penalty - Kylian Mbappé rocket that Emiliano Martinez couldn't stop and brought France back in the game.

This shot was just the start of Kylian Mbappé's historic hat trick that took place in this game. Shortly after in the 82nd minute who else than Kylian Mbappé to tie the game for France? As the French fans in the stadium lost their minds, Argentinian fans started to question if this year is their year, adding more drama to this historic match. But the nerves of those watching started to tingle when the final regulation whistle sounded which means only one thing: this game was going to go into extra time.

And in an attempt to end it once and for all with Messi in the front of the attack, he scored what most probably would be his last World Cup goal ever. This would have been the perfect ending to this memorable world cup with this momentous goal to win it all.

But Mbappe had other plans submitting his first-ever hat trick in the World Cup on a penalty kick due to a handball. The whistle blew and the game went to penalties.

With clutch shooting and good goalkeeping from the Argentina players, they were on the cusp of their third World Cup victory in the country's history. Although it was Gonzalo Montiel who sealed the deal with the final kick, it was Messi and Mbappé that made this game possibly the greatest World Cup final game ever. This together with an astonishing save by Emi Martinez to make the game go to penalties is what the fans love to watch. Events like this make these games remembered and passed on from generation to generation.

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