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The disappointment on Kylian Mbappe’s face as French President Emanuel Macron tried to comfort him after France’s penalty shootout loss to Argentina following a rollercoaster 3-3 draw said it all. Despite only the second hat-trick in FIFA World Cup final history, the 23-year-old and his French teammates were on the wrong end of destiny in Lusail.
Mbappe and Les Bleus somehow clawed their way back into the game, 10 minutes from the end when it looked as if Didier Deschamps’ men were going down with a whimper. An hour or so later, France had gone down but with an almighty fight which the Paris Saint-Germain man had been an absolutely integral part of.
First of all, Mbappe exorcized his ghosts from UEFA Euro 2020 when he missed a penalty in the French exit at the hands of Switzerland by scoring three times in total from the spot. Two of those three penalties came during the wild six-goal encounter over the final 120 minutes plus of what has been a highly eventful World Cup and the other came at the start of the decisive shootout.
Kylian Mbappe left it all out there. 💔 pic.twitter.com/DKVXKtXPni
However, arguably most memorable of all from Mbappe was his superb finish inside of 100 seconds after his penalty made it 2-1 which improbably hauled the French level. In terms of an individual contribution from the man from the Parisian suburb of Bondy. It is up there with the most impressive showings in a final at such a high level.
Ultimately it was not enough, collectively, but that Mbappe was even able to go toe-to-toe with Messi right up until the last was an achievement, especially given how things looked after the first 80 minutes at Lusail Iconic Stadium. Mbappe’s World Cup numbers before the age of 24 are simply staggering with four goals across the 2018 and 2022 finals, eight knockout phase goals (a joint-best total), and 12 goals overall.
1 – Kylian Mbappé in the World Cup:
🥇4 goals in final
🥇8 goals in knockout stage, joint-highest total
🥇10th, 11th and 12th goals aged 23
Prodigy. #ARGFRA pic.twitter.com/hea2O8NNA9
Not only was this treble just the second in World Cup finals history, it was the first time it had been done since England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966. Mbappe is also in esteemed company in terms of those players who have scored three World Cup finals goals or more alongside Hurst, legendary Brazilian Pele, fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, and another Samba star in Vava.
In terms of Mbappe’s total eight-goal haul in Qatar, it is the highest goal scoring total at a World Cup since Ronaldo Nazario back in 2002 when he also scored eight times. Based on a conservative estimate that Mbappe could play on for at least the next 10 years, that should give him and Les Bleus at least two more shots at glory and possibly a third depending on fitness and qualification.
The inevitable disappointment that Mbappe will feel after this loss is understandable and it might take a little while to get over. However, plenty to play for with PSG in the UEFA Champions League will help and the former AS Monaco man should be proud that he already has one World Cup title to his name.
Kylian Mbappe win the 2022 Golden Boot after recording 8 goals in 7 games for 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/JXlEgb4QJa
It has taken until close to the end of Messi’s international career to finally win the World Cup with Argentina while Mbappe will not have to deal with the growing pressure and expectation with each passing opportunity given his and France’s 2018 success. Also, considering the amount of young talent coming through the French ranks at present, their dynastic potential remains intact regardless.
Something else to keep in mind when breaking down Mbappe’s numbers from Qatar is that he did not score in three of the seven games with a brief cameo in defeat to Tunisia once qualified for the knockouts and blanks against both England in the quarterfinals and Morocco in the semifinals. A goal or two in any of those games and we could feasibly be talking about an all-time individual record haul.
Messi’s overdue success has been deserved and he might still have plenty to offer at the top level, but Mbappe has showed once more that the new generation led by him is now ready to take over and dominate the game. Whatever happens next, the Frenchman’s time as the undisputed leading figure in soccer is here and it promises to be as exciting and absorbing as Sunday’s epic final.
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