FOOTBALL – The final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place today in Qatar at the Lusail Stadium. Last time winners, France will take on Argentina in the final which will be broadcast at 4.00 pm.
France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final when they won 4-2 against Croatia. However, this time, Croatia lost against Argentina in the semi-finals.
Croatia v Argentina
The sides had played against each other twice before. Croatia winning 3-0 in their last outing 4 years ago, and Argentina 1-0 back in 1988.
However, the tables were turned at the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-final.
Croatia came out the tunnel strong and showed some good skills on the ball with a good percentage of possession. It looked like Croatia were the stronger team.
That was until…
Livakovic brought down Alvarez in the area. Not only did he receive a yellow card for his clumsy challenge, but a penalty was awarded to Argentina.
In the 34th minute of the game, Messi stepped up, and sent the ball into the top right of the net. Livakovic was helpless. It was 1-0 for Argentina.
Then, just 5 minutes later, it was the turn of Alvarez to score. He ran down the centre and sent the ball home from close range. It was now 2-0 for Argentina.
A few minutes further on, and Livakovic redeemed himself somewhat when he made a fantastic save of an on-target attempt from MacAllister and stopped the Argentinian side from scoring a third goal before the half time whistle.
Modric had a good chance in stoppage time for Croatia but failed to put the ball where it mattered.
And in the final seconds of the first half, Messi ran through 3 Croatian defenders, and won a free kick, but the whistle was blown before he had the chance to take it.
The first half ended 2-0 to Argentina
In the second half, Croatia had some chances at goal, but Martinez was more than able. The Argentinian defence put up a stone wall making it even more difficult for the Croatians to get close.
Following a substitution after 62 minutes, the Argentinian side replaced a midfielder with a defender. With 5 now at the back, the wall was almost impossible to break. Clearly, with 2 goals up, they were happy to defend and claim their place in the final.
However, a few minutes later, assisted by Messi, Alvarez scored again for Argentina making it 3-0, and an impossible task for Croatia in the 20 minutes remaining.
Croatia did not give up and continued to fight until the end. But the final whistle came, and the score was 3-0. Argentina would go on to face France in the final, and Croatia would compete in the play-offs for 3rd position.
Morocco v France
In the second of the semi-finals, Morocco faced the 2018 winners. Morocco were also the first African team to reach this stage ever in the World Cup.
France didn´t wait long. After just 5 minutes, a goal came for Hernandez who took a rebound from Mbappe and finished it off. France were in the lead. Five minutes later, and a chance came for Ounahi, but Lloris made the save.
France were firing on all cylinders, and almost scored again in the 17th minute. Although France were one goal up, the Moroccan side were holding their own. El Yamiq almost equalised in the dying minutes of the first half. However, the first half ended with France one goal up.
Both teams were playing strong in the second half, and it was difficult to choose between them. That was until, the second goal came for France. Kolo Muani came on and replaced Dembele after 79 minutes. Immediately he got his first touch and scored.
With just over 10 minutes to play, the game ramped up a notch. Ounahi had a chance 4 minutes into stoppage time, but the game ended 2-0 for France. France were now in the final against Argentina. Morocco would be in the play-off against Croatia.
Play-off for 3rd and 4th place
Croatia v Morocco
Just 7 minutes in, and already a goal for Croatia. Gvardiol scored with a header from a Modric free kick. It was 1-0 to Croatia. Two minutes later, Morocco equalised. Gvardiol lost the ball, and it ended up on the edge of the six-yard box. Dari was sharp and headed it past Livakovic to make it all square in under 10 minutes.
The game was being played at a fast and furious pace. Despite that, it remained 1-1 until just before half time when the second goal came for Croatia. A fantastic flick over Bounou, and the ball from Orsic went inside the far post. The first half ended 2-1.
Orsic almost scored in the opening minutes of the second half, but his ball was deflected by El Yamiq into the side netting.
Croatia were defending well, with the Moroccan side trying everything to break through. In the 73rd minute, Amrabat kicked the back foot of Gvardiol after he made a run through the middle of the field to get one on one with Livakovic at the goal. However, the referee waved play on, and VAR agreed. No penalty was given.
Two minutes later, the equaliser almost came from En-Nesyri as he picked up the ball after Gvardiol failed to clear it. But Livakovic managed to save it.
Meanwhile, Morroco were asking for a penalty at the other end of the pitch after Hakimi was brought down just outside the box. But it was also denied.
With just over 10 minutes of normal time remaining, both sides were starting to tire, and mistakes were being made. Seven minutes of stoppage time were added, and in the final minute the chance of an equaliser came for Morocco. En-Nesyri rose above Perisic in the middle and sent a header goal bound, but it narrowly missed and landed on top of the net.
The game ended with Croatia claiming the third-place position, and Morocco the fourth.
Also read: Where will the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup be broadcast