When it comes to a World Cup final, there’s one thing you simply cannot do: lose. The feeling of making it all the way to international football’s showpiece occasion but then falling short at the final hurdle is one of the worst imaginable. However, the sad reality is that for every team that achieves sporting immortality by winning the World Cup, there is another that has to face up to the sad truth of their own failures.
It’s that devastating feeling that Argentina and France will be looking to avoid as they gear up for the 2022 World Cup final in Lusail. In the Argentina v France betting, the odds are difficult to call, but both teams will be doing all they can to ensure it’s they who taste glory on Sunday rather than the crushing feeling of having come so close yet failed.
Of course, the pain of losing a World Cup final may differ based on a team’s expectations before the tournament begins. Take 2018 runners-up Croatia as a prime example. No one could have expected Zlatko Dalic’s men to reach the final in Moscow, and yet they upset the odds by progressing all the way to the showpiece occasion. It always felt like it would be a step too far for the underdogs, and so it proved as France ran out of 4-2 winners.
On the flip side, there are occasions where a team loses despite feeling like it is their destiny to get their hands on the trophy. An example of this is the Brazil team of 1998. Defending champions at the time, and with a squad bursting at the seams with quality, most people expected them to get the job done in Paris, but a 3-0 humbling at the hands of hosts France left them with their tail between their legs.
A similar fate was suffered by Argentina in 2014. Most felt like it was written in the stars for Lionel Messi to lead his nation to glory in the backyard of their great rivals Brazil, but Germany stood in the way and crushed that particular dream. Mario Gotze’s late winner in extra time proved how slim the margins could be when it comes to football’s most important match.
Most World Cup finals, at least in the last few decades, are tight, cagey affairs, and that’s why it can often feel so heartbreaking for a team to miss out on the chance to lift the famous trophy. With every chance that passes a team by, you wonder if they will come to regret it. Invariably they do.
Arjen Robben can count himself in that group of players who think back every day to a chance missed in a World Cup final. Midway through the second half of the 2010 final against Spain, Robben found himself through on goal with a golden chance to give the Netherlands the lead.
However, Iker Casillas’ outstretched leg denied him, and the opportunity was gone in the blink of an eye. Spain went on to win it, leaving the Dutch, and Robben in particular, to ponder how different things could have ended.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to winning a World Cup final, and that is what makes the prospect of the match so terrifying and alluring in equal measure. The pressure of delivering on the biggest stage of all, the fear of failure staring you square in the eyes and asking what you’ve got left — this is what the world’s biggest stars live for. Do whatever it takes to avoid being the loser.