There were no miracles on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium. No subversion of the ancient order. Instead, the deeper, more talented side ultimately swatted away the upstarts who had come into this game with 24 hours less rest and 90 minutes more on the pitch.
After a thrilling month of football, the tournament got the finale it deserved, with France crowned world champions for a second time, 20 years after the “Blanc, Beurre, Noir” triumph of Saint Denis.
We saw the most goals in a 90-minute final since 1958, when a teenager named Pele scored as Brazil beat Sweden. On Sunday, the great man was emulated by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe.
Despite their 4-2 defeat, Croatia — the second-smallest country to reach a World Cup final — proved again to be a marvel of their own.
You can debate whether France played their best football at this World Cup (probably not), but you cannot argue that they are not fitting world champions. If France are not the deepest, most talented team in the world, then they are in the top two or three.