Big game players: The best individual moments in recent World Cup finals

As the 2022 World Cup final draws to a close, anticipation is building towards the final. For all it’s controversy, Qatar has been a solid host in the first effort at a winter World Cup, and while the familiarities of a beer garden and checking the World Cup odds 2022 in the sun have been replaced, there has still been plenty of action of the pitch, and that will be no different for the final.
Sometimes all it takes is a piece of individual magic to turn a game on its head. The final is often a cagey affair at the best of times, with neither team wanting to give too much away. And when you throw in the prospect of added pressure from extra time or penalties, the stakes are so intense. There’s no clear blueprint on how to win the World Cup but over the last few tournaments, we’ve seen some special moments. Read on, as we take a trip down memory lane and look at some great individual displays from recent World Cup finals.

Pogba’s performance – 2018
The curious case of Paul Pogba: On his day, the Frenchman is one of the most talented midfielders in the world, and during his come-up at Juventus, looked destined to stamp his authority as one of the best playmakers of this generation. Having cut an inconsistent figure since a record-breaking move to Manchester United in 2016, Pogba was underwhelming throughout his second stint in the Premier League, but on the international stage he’s shone brightest.
Pogba’s performance in the 2018 World Cup final, which included a great goal to help France beat Croatia 4-2, demonstrated all his best qualities. He was a leader, vocal and firm in the tackle, while still possessing those intangible technical assets that make him unstoppable in the right circumstances, even leaving eventual Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric perilous to stop him. His absence from this year’s World Cup after injury in Turin has been a real shame for the sport.

Messi magic not enough in the Maracana – 2014
While Argentina went on a fairy tale run to the World Cup final in 2014, it just wasn’t enough to get over the ruthless efficiency of Germany in Brazil. Having thrashed the hosts 7-1 in an infamous semi-final, there was an inevitability about the European side clinching the title, despite the best efforts of Lionel Messi, who was in his prime years.
Having weaved through defences and scored crucial group stage goals, Messi frustrated the German defence, and even the midfield when he dropped deep, creating chances which were squandered by both Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain. The absence of Sergio Aguero was significant for the South Americans, as Messi was left to carry the loads. But even the greatest player of all time was unable to prevent a German victory, with Mario Gotze’s extra time winner ensuring the trophy would head back with Joachim Low’s side.

Late but great from Iniesta
If any Spanish football fan could freeze a moment in time, it would be when Andres Iniesta scored that famous late winner against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup. The Spaniards, who had dominated their way to the final in South America with possession despite winning every game 1-0, were looking for the finishing touch after the Dutch had kept them at bay for so long.
The likes of David Villa and Fernando Torres couldn’t work their magic, but up steps the midfield maestro Iniesta to deliver a sumptuous late finish and earn Spain their first-ever World Cup. It was a golden era for Spain which arrived in between two European Championships, it’s just a shame that the class of 2022 were unable to replicate such heroics with their penalties exit to Morocco in Qatar.


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