The complete World Cup review as Argentina are crowned world champions


Credit: Carl Recine

Argentina’s captain Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup trophy after beating France on Penalties to be crowned world champions

Zach Eldred, Sports Team

Every four years thirty-two of the world’s top nations compete against each other for the title of soccer world champions during the FIFA World Cup. This global spectacle is watched by fans all around the world and is one of the largest sporting events, racking up over three billion viewers in 2018.

The competition starts off in a group stage where teams are split into eight groups, each consisting of four teams, and every team plays each other once with the top two teams advancing to the Round of 16.

The group stage saw upset after upset, as many of the top teams lost to much smaller and lower-ranked nations. 

The United States played the Netherlands in the first round of 16 games, and despite the United States controlling much of the game, the Netherlands proved to be far more clinical as they ran out 3-1 winners, eliminating the U.S. from the tournament.

 Spain, ranked number seven, lost to underdog Morocco on penalties 0-3 as Spain failed to score any of their three penalties after the game ran scoreless over 120 minutes. 

Perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament came in number three ranked Argentina’s opening game, where Argentina opened the scoring only to concede two goals in the second half to lose 2-1 to 51 ranked Saudi Arabia. This resulted in the single largest upset in World Cup history.

The quarter finals promised to be exciting with some of the largest games of the tournament to come, including Argentina vs. Netherlands and France vs. England. 

The number one ranked Brazil played against Croatia in the first game of the quarter-finals. In a game that looked to be a sure win for Brazil, a late 117 minute goal from Bruno Petkovic of Croatia sent the game to penalties. Brazil then missed two penalties to get eliminated from the tournament.

Later that day, tournament giants Argentina and Netherlands faced off in what turned out to be a vicious and tense thriller. In a game where a record breaking 18 yellow cards were handed to players and staff from both teams, Argentina took the lead in the 35th minute through Nahuel Molina before captain Lionel Messi scored a penalty to double the lead. Argentina’s lead would not last though as Netherland’s substitute Wout Weghorst came off the bench to score two goals at the end of the match to send the game to extra time where Argentina eventually won the game 4-3 on a penalty shoot-out. 

Reigning champions France faced off against a very strong England side in the last quarter-finals match. France took an early lead against England in the 17th minute through midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, before England captain and all-time leading goal scorer Harry Kane leveled the score with  a penalty. France then regained the lead in the 78th minute courtesy of a header from France’s all-time leading scorer, Olivier Giroud, which proved to be enough for France to move on to the semi-finals.

As the tournament advanced to the semi-finals, Argentina played against Croatia and France faced off against Morocco for a place in the finals.

Argentina managed to seal their spot in the finals with a resounding 3-0 win over Croatia with striker Julian Alvarez scoring twice and Messi scoring from the penalty spot. 

The loss meant the Croatian team would get a chance to finish in 3rd place while Argentina would have an opportunity to play for the title of World Champions.

France faced off against an underdog Moroccan team that burst onto the scene during the tournament, beating the likes of Belgium, Spain and Portugal to become the first ever African to reach a World Cup semi-final. Morocco had only conceded one goal up to this point, but they could not keep this up as France left back, Theo Hernandez, opened the scoring after only 5 minutes of play. 

Morocco piled on the pressure for most of the match, but the French defense proved too strong to break as France eventually doubled their lead in the 79th minute through Randal Kolo Munani, who scored with his very first touch of the whole tournament to send France through to the finals.

Croatia beat Morocco in the third place playoff match, as an early goal from Croatian center back Josko Gvardiol put Croatia ahead, only for Morocco to equalize two minutes later. Mislav Orsic scored Croatia’s second goal minutes before the half, and Croatia Held on to win 2-1 and finish in third place.

The finals of the World Cup was always going to be a very exciting game but no one could have predicted what happened in what some are calling the greatest World Cup final of all time.

Argentina was the first to score through a penalty as Messi calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner in the 23rd minute before Angel Di Maria scored the second in the 36th minute with a rapid Argentina counter attack to go 2-0 up against France.

France seemed defeated as they made two first half substitutions bringing off striker, Olivier Giroud, and winger, Ousmane Dembele, for Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Munani.

This substitution proved to pay off as substitute Kolo Munani drew a penalty in the 80th minute which was converted by leading goal scorer and eventual Golden Boot winner, Kylian Mbappe. Less than a minute later, Mbappe leveled the score with a well-struck volley into the bottom corner to send the game to extra time.

The first half of extra time brought nothing of note, but only 3 minutes into the second half of extra time Messi scored and Argentina seemed to have won the match. 

Then, a shot struck the arm of Argintinian right back Nahuel Molina to give France a penalty in the 118th minute of the game. Mbappe converted his second penalty of the game, making it a hat trick to send the game to a penalty shootout. 

Both Mbappe and Messi converted the first penalties, but France’s second penalty taker, Kingsley Coman, had his shot saved by Argentinian keeper Emiliano Martinez, who later went on to win the Golden Glove award for best keeper of the tournament. 

Aurelien Tchouameni missed the third penalty for France to extend Argentina’s advantage in the shootout before Gonzalo Montiel converted Argentina’s fourth penalty to win the shootout and the country’s third ever World Cup title.

As the tournament came to a close, France’s Kylian Mbappe was awarded with the Golden Boot award for being the highest scorer of the tournament with eight goals. 

Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez won the young player award and Lionel Messi claimed his second Golden Ball award for the player of the tournament, an award he won in 2014 when he famously lost in extra time of the finals to Germany. 

This World Cup was full of twists and turns and in a tournament where upset after upset occurred. Every game was exciting to watch, and it will surely go down as one of the most entertaining World Cups of all time.

 The complete World Cup review as Argentina is crowned world champion