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Old 12-15-2022, 11:40 AM   #61 (permalink)
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In one way, they're all winners.

In another, more accurate way, Argentina or France is the winner.
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Old 12-15-2022, 01:08 PM   #62 (permalink)
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As a US citizen, I feel dutybound to support the New World
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Old 12-15-2022, 06:18 PM   #63 (permalink)
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Yeah well don't forget the French helped you after you won independence. Hmm?
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Old 12-15-2022, 08:01 PM   #64 (permalink)
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And for that we thank them. But South America is the forgotten continent. And after our last Administration took a swing at the Latin world, this dude cannot abide.
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Old 12-16-2022, 06:13 AM   #65 (permalink)
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I'm actually with you. France already won last time, Argentina have waited over 30 years now to get where they are, so I'm for the Argentines too. Also Messi is God.
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Old 12-17-2022, 08:16 PM   #66 (permalink)
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Day 29

And so we come to the match hardly anyone cares about, the one which was to decide which of the two teams was the less of a loser. The always-to-be-avoided, never-coveted third place, which was about as meaningful as finishing just in front of the last horse in the big race. Bronze medal? Who the fuck cares about a bronze medal? But one of these teams was going home with at least a little more dignity than the other, and so, to them, and their countries, and to absolutely nobody else in the civilised world, there was everything to play for.

All right, there was something to play for.

Croatia v Morocco (Result: 2-1; Croatia take third place)

To be fair, this was a bigger deal for Morocco than for their opponent. The first time they, or any African team, had got to the semi-finals, even if they had lost when it was most important not to. Either way, they were going home with their heads held high, and statues would be built to them across Africa maybe. For Croatia, it was a worse comedown than last time, when they at least got beaten in the final. They really couldn’t afford to get beaten in this play-off (read, best loser) match, so they would more than likely go all out.

Would it be exciting? Possibly. Would it be a goalfest? Probably not. Did it matter? Not in the least. But at any rate, it was likely to be Luca Modric’s last appearance on the world stage, so there was that. Maybe it would surprise. Maybe not. Very weird: Moroccan keeper popped the ball across the goalmouth and almost scored against himself! It was however a free from Croatia that allowed them to take the lead in the 6th minute, rewarding all their early pressure.It was Morocco’s turn for a free two minutes later, and they equalised with a great header. Not even ten minutes gone and a goal each. Maybe this would be a goalfest.

Croatia tried a lightning reply in the 9th but the ball went slightly wide, the game turning into an end-to-end affair, Croatia with the best chances, including a sublime strike from Modric in the 23rd, just stopped by the keeper. Morocco almost going ahead then in the 28th but completely missed as the ball flashed across goal. Again in the 32nd, and the Africans believed they had been cheated of a corner, surrounding the ref, but he held his ground, having in fact made the right call. Two minutes later they had a free, but headed away harmlessly by Croatia. A lot of the action now taking place down the Croatian half as Morocco got a corner, again a header just nicked past the post and then as half time beckoned Croatia scored again to take the lead.

They began the second half as they had ended the first, ruthlessly on the attack, almost scoring in the opening minutes, and had two more efforts in the next few, Morocco only even getting the ball in the 61st but losing it almost immediately and Croatia were bearing down on the Moroccan goal again. Another goal for Morocco would of course change everything and inch the match closer to extra time, while a third goal for Croatia would surely kill the game off. 65th minute saw Morocco put Croatia under pressure, but unable to do much with the possession. Good attack in the 69th but the Croatian defence stood firm. They had a chance to put it to bed a minute later but blasted high over the net, then Morocco were on the break again, they with the harder task. They had to score, to send the game into extra time, whereas the Croatians could just sit back and soak up the pressure, being already a goal ahead.

Croatia denied a penalty in the 72nd then Morocco almost did it, a tremendous save keeping them out, then a free kick went begging for Morocco and we headed into the 80th minute, time running out for valiant Morocco now. Croatia came close again in the dying minutes but just right of the post. One last try for Morocco as they got a free kick with thirty seconds to go, but cut out and then blasted high over the bar. Penalty check for Morocco led to nothing, and Croatia only had to hold on now as the seconds of extra time ticked away. Morocco weren’t going to give up, and they really gave it their all, but in the end, though it was close, it was Croatia’s day and they take the bronze.

A better than expected performance from both teams, and a highly entertaining and enjoyable match, with each team going for it right to the end. Congratulations to both of them; you did your countries - and in the case of Morocco, also your continent - proud.

Tomorrow we have the final. See you then.
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Old 12-18-2022, 08:27 PM   #67 (permalink)
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Day 30

And so, this is what it had all been leading up to. After thirty days, thirty-two teams and three rounds of matches, during which some major hitters had gone home and some teams expected to make an early exit had surprised, it came down to the current champions trying to maintain their title and be the first team in its history to retain the World Cup in consecutive tournaments, having already won twice - this would be their third title - while the other was looking to return to the glory days of 1986 and win for the third time in its history. Argentina had come close to that elusive honour of consecutive wins, but missed out in 1983, having won in 1978 and 1986. Messi, despite being acknowledged as the best player in the world, had yet to lift the World Cup, and this might be his last opportunity to do so. Two teams at the top of their game, two countries with something to prove, Europe v South America, Deschamps v Scaloni , Messi v Mbappe - any way you looked at it, while this might be a somewhat predictable final, it was still shaping up to be a clash of the titans.

The World Cup Final: Argentina v France

As you might expect there was no easing in to this, France going right up through the gears from the first minute, then a bad pass in the 4th minute gave possession to Argentina, who almost capitalised on the French mistake. On the attack now, Argentina then lost possession momentarily but were able to get it back and got a corner after a decent shot. We were now in the 8th minute and France were struggling to get the ball, but when they did get it they didn’t waste it, going close as the clock hit 13. Another attempt on 16 but free kick against the French anyway, so even had it gone it it wouldn’t have counted. Drama then in the French half as Argentina got a penalty in the 22nd, and who else but Messi to take it and score? Pressure? What pressure?

Buoyed by their early lead Argentina pressed for a second, keeping the French away from the ball and really playing some lovely football. France took their chances when they got them, but they hadn’t many, and on 35 Argentina were two up. In the dying seconds of the half France got a free kick but were unable to reduce the deficit, Argentina very much in the ascendancy at the break, and on the French performance who would expect this to change, except in Argentina’s favour? Indeed, they were back on the attack from the start, just missing out on adding a third twice in as many minutes, and surely they had the game well and truly sewn up now?

But a little complacency creeping in? Argentinian keeper gave the ball to France and put his own team, and himself, under pressure, when there was no need to. 2-0 is a good lead, but it doesn’t take a lot to cut it down if you make silly mistakes like that and let the opposition in. Another attempt by Argentina on 58 and 59, and at this point they could have been 5 or 6 ahead had it not been for Lloris and a little sub-par finishing. France coming back into it from about 67 minutes, but could they make it count? All the action down the Argentina half now, as France tried to put their stamp on the game,

And they did. Penalty for France in the 78th minute, and Mbappe made it count, halving the Argentinians’ lead. Ten minutes plus extra time to force an equaliser if they could and send this into another thirty minutes wherein they might be able to turn things around. Well, yeah they did! Another goal from Mbappe and they were level! Argentina definitely guilty of taking their foot off the gas and allowing France back in, when they looked done and dusted. They even lost a chance to win it in normal time with a great shot in the 83rd minute, but they would take extra time at this point. A dive in the 86th put a slight tarnish on the game but did not result in a penalty for France, and quite right too. Seen less convincing dives at the swimming pool.

A corner for France in the final minutes of extra time and France TWICE had the chance again to take it, Argentina rocking now, obviously dismayed that they had been forced to extra time, then Messi almost settled it with less than a minute to go. A corner for Argentina went nowhere and into extra time we went. Argentina came close twice, including in the last minute but 2-2 it remained and then in the 18th it looked like the ball had gone over the line for Argentina, the ref blew for a goal and Argentina were ahead again, France with it all to do again, and you would have to feel sorry for them, until once again France got a penalty in the 26th and Mbappe had his hat-trick, France again level. What a final this was turning out to be!

In the dying seconds France could have taken it, as could Argentina moments later, but both missed and we were looking at penalties.



1st penalty for France: scored

1st penalty for Argentina: scored

2nd penalty for France: saved

2nd penalty for Argentina: scored

3rd penalty for France: missed

3rd penalty for Argentina: scored

4th penalty for France: scored

4th penalty for Argentina: scored

Argentina win on penalties and are the world champions again!

So, after a lot of giant-killing, small teams coming good, surprises, shocks, heartache and joy, more penalty shoot-outs than any World Cup I remember, and history being made twice, with the tournament being held for the first time in winter and for the first time in an Arab country, it’s been a hell of a month. Once again, the World Cup has reminded us all why we call this the beautiful game, and why we love it so much. Only four years to wait for the next one!
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Old 12-19-2022, 06:40 AM   #68 (permalink)
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Felicidades a los campeones del mundo.

And a thanks to Trollheart for keeping us current.
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Old 12-20-2022, 05:05 PM   #69 (permalink)
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The moment when the Qatari ruler - the guy who pays Messi and Mbappé's paychecks as he owns Paris Saint-Germain - put that cloak on Messi's shoulders, appropriating the greatest moment of the greatest player... that was ****ing amazing. Football the black-hearted monster in its full glory.
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