France coach Didier Deschamps’ solely remorse after the FIFA World Cup closing in opposition to Argentina is the truth that ahead Randal Kolo Muani may have gained it for his nation if not for a superhuman save by La Albiceleste goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez within the 106th minute.
“If you look at the match as a whole, in the first 70 minutes or so we were playing an aggressive and dynamic opponent. We were not up to that level for whatever reason. But we managed to come back from death and there’s regret as in extra-time we could have won in the last minute. It went to the penalties… I must congratulate Argentina for a courageous performance,” Deschamps instructed the media.
Lionel Messi gained his first World Cup as Argentina lifted the trophy after 36 years. Except for just a few blips within the first half, Les Bleus weren’t too sloppy within the fixture that was determined by the would possibly of the ‘keepers. Deschamps pointed out what may have gone wrong for his side. He said, “We lacked a bit of energy. A few of our key players lacked that energy. Few inexperienced players brought some freshness and quality and kept the dream alive. But unfortunately, that was not enough.”
A slew of injury concerns had been bothering France in the lead-up to the quadrennial showpiece. Deschamps had to look for alternatives as many of his key players went missing. Even star striker Karim Benzema was ruled out on the eve of Qatar 2022.
“The squad has been facing a situation for some time and maybe that had a psychological impact, but the players were 100 per cent fit. There were four days since the last match and there was a bit of fatigue but nothing to make excuses.”
In the 41st minute, Marcus Thuram and Kolo Muani came on for Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud, who has been nursing an injury. Explaining the move, Deschamps says, “The change in first half was tactical as we lacked freshness. I am not blaming Giroud and Dembele but they were not 100 per cent. There was a change in position as well as I brought Kylian (Mbappe) from the wings. We were not in great shape and physically lacked that extra (factor) that you need against strong teams.”
Argentina won a penalty in the 22nd minute after Angel Di Maria broke into the France penalty area only to be seemingly tripped by Ousmane Dembele. The referee pointed to the spot straightaway but the decision was highly controversial and divided social media. Messi took the spot kick to put the South American team ahead in the 23rd minute. There was no VAR check for the decision. Deschamps made it clear he is not entirely happy about how things transpired but at the same time he took nothing away from Argentina.
“You saw it as well as I did, the refereeing could have been worse but it could have been better also. There were some decisions that have been questioned. I had said earlier that Argentina has been lucky and I don’t wish to take something away from them as they deserve the title. I mentioned with the referee after the sport and that i don’t wish to talk about that right here.”
Mbappe gained the Golden Boot for having scored eight objectives in Qatar 2022. On the evening of the ultimate, he even bagged a hattrick. But nonetheless France couldn’t take the ultimate step. “It was the World Cup of records tonight. Many players brought records in this World Cup and Kylian left his mark in this final. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the reward for his efforts (the World Cup trophy).”