This has been arguably the most controversial and chaotic World Cup in the 92-year history of the international tournament, but also one of the most competitively epic.
There was the unprecedented selection of Qatar as the host, the equally unprecedented decision to hold it in the autumn months and the $300 billion Qatar reportedly spent.
Thousands of migrant workers died building and maintaining the stadiums. Initially, protests in support of LGBTQ rights stifledinitiating a series of reactions protests. the beer was forbidden of the venues days before the tournament began. there was also several fights between competing nations
The mountain of negative press may not have been worth it for the Persian Gulf nation, but the competition itself couldn’t have been better.
- The group stage saw two of the biggest surprises in World Cup history: Saudi Arabia 2-1 victory over Argentina and Japan’s 2-1 victory over Germany.
- The quarterfinals featured four thrillers, two decided on penalties.
- Morocco they became the first African nation to advance to the semi-finals.
“With the US back in the World Cup, we were expecting a healthy increase in viewership, and we are actually a bit ahead of our own expectations,” Michael Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ head of strategy and analytics, wrote in an email to Front Office. Sports.
“On coverage in English and Spanish, Americans will spend more time watching the World Cup than watching March Madness.”
And at the end of a tournament with twists and turns worthy of a Hollywood movie scriptthe 2022 final delivered an epic showdown.
- On one side is Argentina, which has won the title twice – but never with Lionel Messi, who is one World Cup trophy away from cementing his status as the GOAT.
- On the other side is France, the 1998 and 2018 champions, who, behind arguably the best player in the world today, Kylian Mbappe, are looking to become the first repeat World Cup winner since 1962.
“There aren’t many better narratives in sports than a showdown of generational talent vying for a championship,” Mulvihill said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better pairing, and I suspect broadcasters around the world feel the same way.”
Messi’s best shot
When Lionel Messi takes his team onto the pitch at Lusail Stadium, it will be his 26th World Cup appearance, a FIFA record for a male player.
The 35-year-old has built his legend primarily through his monumental achievements at the Barcelona club, but on a national level, he has also been the most prolific player in Argentine history.
- Leads Argentina in games (171) and goals (96).
- He is he youngest Argentine to score at a World Cup, scoring just before his 19th birthday against Serbia and Montenegro in 2006.
- In 2022, he already fixed the Argentine record for goals in a calendar year (16).
And while Messi is the nation’s top scorer in Qatar with five goals and three assists, Argentina have come this far with the support of a core of young talent.
Julian Alvarez The 22-year-old forward, who transferred to Manchester City for 21.4 million euros ($22.7 million) in January, has found the back of the net four times, including twice in the semi-final win over Croatia.
Defending was a concern for the team arriving in Qatar, but the 24-year-old centre-back Christian Romero he has led a back line that has allowed just nine shots on goal all tournament. Romero transferred permanently to Tottenham Hotspur for 50 million euros ($53 million) in August.
And then there’s Argentina’s biggest asset not named Messi, who has been quiet in the run-up to the final.
lautaro martinez — with a maximum equipment value of €75 million ($79.5 million) per Transfermakt’s Market value ranking: He has held no goals or assists in the five games he has played.
If he can break his losing streak, the 25-year-old Inter Milan striker could make the difference against France.
The price of repeat
When you have a generational talent like Kylian Mbappe, winning becomes a bit easier.
Fresh from scoring a competition-best seven goals in the Champions League group stage, the 23-year-old superstar leads France with five goals in this World Cup.
Mbappé holds the distinction of second most expensive transfer of all time — behind Neymar’s €222 million ($235.2 million) — when he moved to Paris Saint-Germain for €180 million ($190.7 million) in 2017.
is currently the second most valuable (€160M/$169.5M) player in transfer market behind Erling Haaland of Manchester City (170 million euros/180.1 million dollars).
And Mbappé is surrounded by a deep and talented France team.
- Exterior Ousmane Dembele transferred to Barcelona in 2017 for 140 million euros ($148.4 million), the third most expensive transfer in history.
- Forward antoine griezmann transferred to Barcelona in 2019 for 120 million euros ($127.1 million), the sixth most expensive transfer in history.
France is also receiving contributions from young upstarts and trusted veterans alike.
Aurelien Tchouameni scored a sensational goal in France’s 2–1 quarter-final win over England; The 22-year-old’s transfer to Real Madrid for €80 million was the fourth most expensive transfer this season.
Olivier GiroudThe veteran AC Milan striker has contributed four goals, the second most on the team, but the 36-year-old condition because the match is in doubt after he hit his knee in training.
Legacies on the line
Messi and Mbappé actually have a lot in common.
The Argentine legend and the French phenomenon come into play tied for the Golden Bootawarded to the top scorer in the World Cup (Messi has the tiebreaker in assists, 3-2).
They are also teammates at PSG, which (most likely coincidentally) is owned by Qatar Sports Investments, a subsidiary of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
But any courtesy will have to wait until they return to Paris: each has a great legacy to play for.
- A victory in the World Cup for Messi surely place him above Cristiano Ronaldo in their celebrated rivalry, which began when the two entered the world stage in the early 2000s.
- If Mbappe is able to lead France to rare back-to-back World Cups, it would be a national sports legend before the age of 24.
Whoever brings home the trophy will no doubt be mentioned alongside the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona in the greatest player ever conversation, and a win for Messi could even put him above those two icons.