Psllivecricket t20 world cup 2022 Commentary: Anguish over World Cup 2022 loss will push Mbappe … – CNA

Commentary: Anguish over World Cup 2022 loss will push Mbappe … – CNA

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Commentary
Commentary
Fitness permitting, Kylian Mbappe will remain at the forefront of France’s current football generation, the pain of defeat in Qatar informing his progress over the coming years, says sports writer Michael Church.
France's Kylian Mbappe walks past the trophy at the end of the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, Dec 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
DOHA: Kylian Mbappe shot the briefest, most anguished look towards the World Cup trophy as it sat gleaming under the floodlights, resplendent on its plinth and in full gaze of the Lusail Stadium and a global television audience.
The pain was too much to bear as the Paris Saint-Germain striker trudged past, averting his eyes.
No one has done more than Mbappe to keep France’s hopes of back-to-back World Cup titles alive. In 40 thrilling minutes at the end of the most remarkable final in a generation – if not ever – the 24-year-old dragged his team to the verge of a third championship since 1998.
It was, ultimately, a stunningly effective performance from a player who had been peripheral for so long during the final. In a game that was billed by many as a clash between Mbappe and his PSG teammate Lionel Messi, the Argentinian was well ahead.
Two goals in as many minutes changed all that. Mbappe’s ruthless 80th minute penalty launched an improbable fightback that he was to complete himself a minute later with a stunning volley.
Trading goals in extra-time and successful spot-kicks in the shoot-out with Messi, Mbappe went toe-to-toe on Sunday with the man some believe he has already succeeded to become the best player in the world.
Mbappe’s resume still has some way to go before he can be considered a rival of Messi in the quest for all-time greatness, however.
That’s not to say his achievements to date are anything less than impressive. While Mbappe has yet to taste success in the UEFA Champions League or at the Euros, he was crowned a World Cup winner when he was only 19.
His goal against Croatia at the World Cup 2018 final, when added to his hat trick against Argentina – the first time anyone has scored three times in the World Cup decider since Geoff Hurst in 1966 – means Mbappe has scored four World Cup final goals, more than anyone else.
For a player of his relative youth, Mbappe’s scoring record is phenomenal. Twelve goals across 14 games in two World Cup tournaments – he has played every match contested by the French in both Russia and Qatar – underscore his importance to his nation.
And consider this: Mbappe has played and scored in more World Cup matches than Pele did at a similar age. The Brazilian, though, leads 2-1 on the World Cup count at this stage of their careers.
Mbappe’s astonishing pace terrorised defences throughout Qatar 2022. The fear he instills creates opportunities for his team-mates. This was never more visible than against England in the quarter-finals, where the Three Lions’ efforts to shackle the French striker created openings on the other flank for Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.
With one World Cup winner’s medal and another for France’s runners-up finish on Sunday, Mbappe has already reached the pinnacle of the international game. The question now is: How much further can he go?
The flexibility of his performance in the final shows he carries a threat in central positions as well as in his more customary role on the flanks. He is sure to be even more driven to deliver success at club level with PSG. Don’t rule out a concerted effort – in tandem with Messi and Neymar – to claim the UEFA Champions League title for his club’s Qatari owners.
And from there? Real Madrid remain the obvious destination when his contract in Paris expires, despite the acrimony that remains after he snubbed Florentino Perez in the summer.
Meanwhile France’s status among the game’s elite will be maintained through Euro 2024 and the next World Cup – such is the country’s strength in depth.
Fitness permitting, Mbappe will remain at the forefront of this generation for Les Bleus, the pain of defeat in Qatar informing his progress over the coming years as he endeavours to have the World Cup trophy back in his embrace.
Michael Church is a sports journalist with over 25 years of experience covering Asian football.
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