Les Bleus were attempting to become just the third team in history to win back-to-back world crowns – a dream that looked beyond them by half-time as Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria put La Albiceleste into a deserved lead. Reigning champions France continued to limp through the final only to roar into life late in the second half, with Kylian Mbappe scoring twice in 97 seconds to take the match to extra time. Argentina skipper Messi put his side back ahead only for his Paris St Germain team-mate to become the second man in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final as the match ended 3-3 after 120 minutes. The Qatar finale went to penalties and France were unable to add to their 2018 triumph, with Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni failing with their spot-kicks in a heart-breaking 4-2 shootout loss.
“Those first 70 minutes or so we were playing a very aggressive and dynamic opponent and we just weren’t up to the same level for a number of reasons,” France head coach Deschamps said. “But, nevertheless, we managed to come back from the dead and we made a magnificent comeback from what was a very difficult situation. Obviously we have some regrets about that first part of the match and then we go into the extra time, where we could have won it in the last minute. Unfortunately, it didn’t go in and then it went to penalties.
“We were 2-0 down and could have lost 3-0 and then it would have been a very different feeling. But we made this great comeback, and I really must congratulate Argentina because they showed great quality, great aggression, experience and some very cunning football out there. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They put in a good performance.
“Of course I went through a lot of different emotions tonight and of course there are some regrets because we were just so close to winning this match but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be. There were obviously a number of reasons for that. There were a number of reasons why we just weren’t quite as good as we could have been, and we had a very strong opponent. We were perhaps lacking a little bit of energy. Some of our key players were lacking that energy. But, nonetheless, we had some young, more inexperienced players who came on and brought some freshness and quality and they managed to get us back into the match and keep the dream alive. But unfortunately at the end of the day we couldn’t achieve that dream.”
The France team dealt with illness in the build-up and were crestfallen at the end of Sunday’s final, with Mbappe looking particularly dejected when he went to collect the Golden Boot award for scoring eight goals in Qatar. “Kylian has really left his mark on this final,” Deschamps said. “But unfortunately he didn’t leave it in the way he would have liked and that’s why he was so disappointed at the end of match like all of the players.”
Deschamps has been in charge of the French national team since 2012 and led them to the 2018 World Cup title, having captained the country to their first crown in 1998. Asked if he will stay on as manager, the 54-year-old said: “You’re not the first person to ask that question. In fact, even if we’d won the match, I wouldn’t be able to reply to that question tonight. Of course I’m very sad for my players and for all of my staff. But, as you know, I’ll have a meeting with the president at the beginning next year and then you’ll find out.”