When a football game transforms into cosmic activity instead of just a football game, what do you do? Is football going to remain merely a sport or will it evolve into a lasting symbol of greatness and immortality? Therefore, how is it recorded in the official records? Is there a different name for things like Match No. 64 at the FIFA World Cup in 2022, or is it just Match No. 64? Does it leave behind all of the host’s political and cultural chaos, allowing the suits to laugh all the way to the bank?
Regardless of who wins the world championship on Sunday, there will undoubtedly be a succession—a bizarre and tardy rite of passage. Regardless of the outcome, Lionel Messi will hand the baton to Kylian Mbappe, rendering this final, his final match, somewhat meaningless in exercise.
This decisive outcome, its saga-ending finale, and its principal characters have belonged to the world more than anyone else has, and no one has been called out more than they have. In 2014, Rio de Janeiro, football’s spiritual home, was unable to generate the same atmosphere as this one. At the time, tens of thousands of Argentinians had taken over the Copacabana by driving up the northern border in their battered caravans and old buses. This was an obnoxious, noisy, and distracting invasion of the senses and turf. There was a fate satisfying like energy then as well, there is one this time as well. Why does this one seem so accurate?
A longtime FIFA and football partnership, reports that all of their Messi shirts have sold out worldwide. This has never taken place before. In the not-too-distant future, Naples’s finance police would conduct raids and seize off-shoots of the well-known Maradona mural, which was for a long time the touristy face of the city, from squatters still looking to make a buck off of the deceased hero. It would imply that Maradona is still present. In that global streetwise football concept, the ball is still rolling. Imagine that crazy expectation, the daily euphoria, and the warmth of the horde in Qatar multiplied by ten.
This World Cup left Qatar nearly a month ago to go somewhere else in the world. The working-class boulevards of Paris, Bangladesh, and Buenos Aires will be crowded on Sunday.
Argentina’s Big Glove goalkeeper, would tell us on Saturday that Lusail, the final venue and home ground of Argentina in Qatar, is like playing at home. Every match, every stadium, we feel our fans. We feel their support, and playing in Argentina feels like playing there,” he would tell us something that everyone is familiar with—France and Didier Deschamps’ team. On the eve of the final, as if that weren’t enough, they have to deal with a flu epidemic among the team members.
Every discussion, every mention of their title defence on Sunday, emanates through a mention of Messi for France, a fearsome, complete footballing unit aiming to win its second consecutive title since Brazil in 1962. They are favourites, but they barely matter in the grand scheme of things. What a terrible situation. “But there are a lot of young players who are talented,” France captain Hugo Lloris would say.
It’s amazing to think that they have Mbappe, who is just 23 years old and is already set to win his second World Cup. The world champions still struggle with recall.Four years ago, when the two teams met in Russia for the second round, Deschamps would find some consolation. The game would be anything but close, even if the score was 4-3. The image of the tournament would be that of a rampaging, barely 20-year-old Mbappe tearing down the Argentine half, a flailing, badly outrun Javier Mascherano, lunging behind but unable to even grasp the hem of the Frenchman’s shirt as he vanished.
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