‘Crazy and cruel’: Newspapers in France react to World Cup final defeat

Newspapers in France have reacted with pride to the country’s defeat to Argentina in the World Cup final, although many also acknowledged the “cruel” outcome of the thrilling penalty shoot-out.

France were denied back-to-back World Cup triumphs as Argentina and Lionel Messi prevailed in the Qatar final, winning 4-2 on penalties. The 2018 World Cup winners had fought back to force extra time, with Kylian Mbappe scoring a remarkable hat-trick.

It had looked as if France had failed to turn up when Argentina took a two-goal lead, but Les Bleus responded as Mbappe scored twice in two minutes before equalising again in extra time.

Given France were champions four years ago and that the outcome resulted in Messi winning the World Cup for the first time, the national newspapers instead reflected on the contribution they had played in making the final the greatest of all time.

The sports daily L’Equipe went with the headline, “Heads Held High” alongside a picture of Mbappe, after the 23-year-old became only the same player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.

Le Parisien declared “Proud of our Blues” while l’Humanite said they were the “champions of hearts” for playing their part in a “breathtaking” World Cup final.

Nice-Matin said France’s defeat was “crazy and cruel”, while Provence similarly went with the “cruel” backpage. Paris Normandie focused on Mbappe with the headline “shooting star”.

The Republican East reflected on France’s “broken dream” while the Republican Echo said the final had been “beautiful and cruel”.

The Journal de Saône-et-Loire simply said: “Thank you Blues!”

Meanwhile, France’s players said they would be leaving Qatar with their heads high having fought until the end against Argentina.

“We are very disappointed of course, we gave everything. We had to face a lot of obstacles during the competition, we gave up nothing,” said the defender Raphael Varane.

“For an hour we were not in the game. We could have won too. I’m very proud of this group and of being French. We keep our heads high. We came back in this game when it was complicated.

“We pushed and we believed until the end. We almost turned the game around, which was not going well… There was mental strength in this group, a lot of heart. That allowed us to come back in this game. We’re disappointed but also proud.”

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