France was unable to create World Cup history when they met Argentina in the competition’s 22nd final.
Didier Deschamps’ men were seeking back-to-back titles subsequently following Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) as the only countries to successfully defend their crown.
Standing in Les Bleus‘ path was a determined Lionel Messi and the record six-time Ballon d’Or recipient inspired his nation to a third championship. The reigning Copa América holders raced into a 2-0 lead before Kylian Mbappe registered two quickfire goals.
It forced extra time during which the Paris Saint-Germain duo exchanged goals. Lionel Scaloni’s side ultimately triumphed 4-2 on penalties thus beginning the post-mortem into France’s defeat.
In the days leading up, there were reports of a virus ravaging Deschamps’ squad. In fact, both Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot missed their semi-final win against Morocco through illness, the pair would recover in time for their date with destiny. Deschamps confirmed the existence of a bug though wasn’t prepared to use that as a singular excuse for a terrible opening performance.
“We utterly failed to show up in the first half. We expected (their intensity), we neither had the correct attitude nor the correct response,” he told reporters.
“It will take a lot to worry them and come back. They are really playing a World Cup final. We didn’t turn up for different reasons (in the first 60 minutes). We have had to face difficult things in the last four days. Illness and then things collectively too,” he told reporters.
His sentiments were echoed by skipper Hugo Lloris. “The virus? We’re not going to look for excuses, we gave it our all, we did not cheat,” the Tottenham goalkeeper commented. “We must congratulate the guys because until the end, we will not have given up.”