In what was one of the greatest games in the history of football, Argentina defeat France in the penalty shootout of the 2022 World Cup Final.
It was a rollercoaster, with alternating waves of momentum and emotions.
Argentina started the game with one unexpected tactical wrinkle: Angel di Maria started over Leandro Paredes, which provided Lionel Scaloni’s men with width and flair. Di Maria, who’s put together brilliant finals in the past (2021 Copa America Final; 2014 Champions League Final) was foot-perfect. Di Maria started on the right wing and had plenty of touches on the ball. He turned Ousmane Dembele and Jules Kounde in and out, and eventually earned a penalty to help put Argentina up 1 - 0, and then 13 minutes later, he himself capped a brilliant Argentina counter-attack to make it 2 - 0.
Real Madrid’s Aurelien Tchouameni started in his regular midfielder anchor role for France, where he — along with the rest of the French side — struggled to get a foot-hold of the game. France’s press was the worst it’s been all tournament, and they had no answer to Argentina’s rabid counter-press.
Down 2 - 0 at half-time, it was hard to see where France were going to find their goal. They hadn’t tallied a single shot, and Kylian Mbappe was marked out of the game brilliantly (and collectively) by Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, and Rodrigo de Paul. Everyone on Argentina, including Enzo Fernandez at the base of the midfield and their leader Lionel Messi, was having a great game.
France struggled to find openings in the second half while also remaining vulnerable to dangerous Argentina counter-attacks. But there was eventually a momentum shift, and it came after Didier Deschamps made a double sub, bringing on Eduardo Camavinga and Kingsley Coman for Antoine Griezmann and Theo Hernandez. In the moment, it didn’t seem like Camavinga playing at left-back for the second time at this World Cup was an ideal way for France to get themselves back in the game, but the Real Madrid midfielder (and now pseudo left-back!) had a great game from that position, played good 1v1 defense on Lionel Messi, and was helping retain the ball while also progressing it.
Camavinga and Coman both gave France an important jolt, and that also coincided with Deschamps’s men earning a penalty which Mbappe converted in the 80th minute. That turned the game completely on its head, and Mbappe scored another one minute later to equalize and take it into extra-time, where France and Argentina both scored again — with both teams having multiple chances to win it just before the penalty shootout.
Argentina finally pulled away from France in the penalty shootout, where they converted all four of their penalties. France missed two (Tchouameni, Coman), and ultimately fell.