Talking Points: Is Kylian Mbappe the next big thing?
Written by: Abhranil Roy
The fixture turned out to be rather one-sided but proved many things once again.
It was a match that was 20 years in the making and it lived up to the billing and then some. France beat first-time finalists Croatia 4-2 to lift the World Cup for the second time in their history. The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow played host to a truly special World Cup showpiece, one that had a real ebb and flow to it.
Watch: France 4-2 Croatia highlights
Here are the five things we learned from the game:
5. It was a spectacular World Cup
Russia 2018 will live for a long time in the hearts of football fans. It was a Cup of upsets, collective brilliance and a farewell of the old guard as well as a welcoming of the new. We will probably not see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta or Luka Modric at a Mundial again and that is really sad. However, the arrival of the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Harry Kane and many more has ensured that the show will go on.
Football was the biggest winner in a competition in which individual flair has historically triumphed over collective excellence. The final was between two teams who were the most balanced and played the most consistent football and has probably set the tone for the game as a whole in the next few years.
4. Croatia can be proud of themselves
Croatia came into the World Cup as underdogs, but they left with their heads held high. Their 3-0 trouncing of Messi’s Argentina, their dogged wins over Russia and Denmark and the manner in which they came back to beat England in the semi-final will go down in the annals of the Mundial.
The likes of Ante Rebic, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Perisic became household names over the last few weeks and if one thing is for certain, it is that they will be getting several big offers from elite European clubs before the transfer window ends.
3. Raphael Varane proved his worth once again
At the age of 25, Raphael Varane has four Champions League titles, three Club World Cups and one FIFA World Cup to his name. He was already highly-regarded following his exploits with Real Madrid, but his performances for France in this World Cup will put him on the Sergio Ramos pedestal.
A worthy leader, he was a rock at the back for Les Bleus and rarely made a mistake throughout the seven games. One can expect him to dominate the game throughout the next decade and retire with many more accolades.
2. Paul Pogba showed why he is so highly-rated
Watch: Paul Pogba scored against Croatia in the FIFA World Cup 2018 final
To many people’s disgust, Didier Deschamps has put the mercurial Paul Pogba on a leash and has rarely given him the freedom to venture forward throughout the tournament. However, he has still delivered good performances playing in the midfield pivot alongside N’Golo Kante.
He was utilized in the same role on Sunday and underlined his class with a well-taken left-foot goal, showing why he was kept on the pitch, despite the ball remaining largely at the feet of Modric and Rakitic throughout the 90 minutes.
1. Kylian Mbappe could be the "Next Big Thing"
Mbappe has been the story of the World Cup and he ended the tale with an outstanding flourish. He was ineffective in the first half, but he set up Pogba’s goal and scored one for himself, to become the first teenager since Pele in the 1958 Mundial to score in the final.
With his pace, skill, game-reading abilities and technique, the PSG forward has already dominated Ligue 1 and the Champions League and should only keep getting better. He has it in him to become as good as Ronaldo or Messi, if he can keep his feet on the ground and his dreams in the air.
Published: Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:43 PM IST