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And yet, when you’re hellbent on shooting yourself in the face, and no one is more so than Argentina, you’ll succeed in opening up a new orifice in your skull. So you’ll slide out to block a shot with your elbow in chicken-dance pose, giving Mbappé a second penalty to bury.

And Argentina could have, and should have, lost it all.

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That’s just another punt upfield that Argentina contrived to turn into France’s best chance of the game. And considering Martinez barely got a toe on it, it could lead one to conclude that yes, it was all meant to be. The World Cup was always going to be in Messi’s hands. Or Martinez just timed this to perfection, either way.

And so it ended after another penalty shootout, with Argentina not missing.

Perhaps it’s the best kind of final, and certainly the best one to watch, in that you could read whatever you want into it. The destiny aspect for Argentina. Or maybe a testament to their grit and willpower in the face of also their own self-destructive streak. Rarely does a team have to survive its own, overwhelming worst habits and yet come out on top. Or perhaps it’s the heroics of Mbappé, who basically dragged France to nearly a second-straight World Cup on his own. As well as Mbappé apparently being virus-resistant. It could be all of that.

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Never has a World Cup winner been so at war with itself as Argentina. They were brilliant going forward, as evidenced by their second goal or their third goal against Croatia. And yet their defense always felt like it could step on a landmine it forgot it put in the ground, and it did. Maybe the greatest illustration of Messi’s brilliance is that he was able to outscore his own defense’s incompetence and his team’s determination to make it so damn hard.

The final, at least for the last third of it, was everything all at once. Argentina have been everything all at once for the whole tournament. In that sense, only they could win such a game. When the chaos boils within, the chaos on the outside must seem the norm.

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Goal of the day

Argentina’s flowing, definition of counterattacking soccer should be shown at academies all over the world, but Mbappé is just that big of a swinging dick that he has to take it:

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Did VAR fuck anything up?

It was a little odd that there was no check of Argentina’s penalty, as it seemed pretty soft, but other than that, it stayed out of the way.

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Did Alexi Lalas say anything stupid?

Let’s just enjoy the eight months we’ll get before he’s needlessly crowbarred onto the Women’s World Cup coverage that we won’t have to listen to him mistaking talking louder and faster for saying something more important.

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A eulogy for the departed

It is strange that a team that came close to accomplishing something essentially unheard of in the modern day, defending the World Cup, will be minorly mourned outside of France. France will say they played the way they had to to achieve so much, and we can all do one if we didn’t like it. And this was all testimony to the simply ridiculous level of depth the country has as its disposal. They lost their entire midfield before the tournament started, didn’t matter. They lost their starting left-back in the first game, and could bring in a better one who just happened to be his brother. The reigning Ballon D’or winner broke down before the tournament started, and so did his backup, and yet France still had the forward around who knits the attack together better than those guys.

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And yet, given how stale they could make things, given how conservative they mostly were, it doesn’t feel like a great loss or missed opportunity. France boiled down most every match to a moment or two that they were supremely confident would go their way given their talent and experience. They ran into a team in Argentina that causes far more of these moments simply on accident.

They’ll probably always wonder what would have happened if their preparation hadn’t been jostled/ruined by the flu. It’s unlikely they would have been too much more vibrant in attack, because they just haven’t been. It’s not how they won four years ago. And yet again, it was Emi Martinez’s toe away from working again.