In 468 days, gold medals will be handed out to a fresh set of World Cup winners. At the end of — and let’s be optimistic about the conditions — an agreeably warm evening just outside Doha, the finalists will line up for congratulations from the Emir of Qatar. As one or two greet Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, they may imagine the most appropriate words are: “Thanks, boss.”
The romantic storyline has Argentina’s captain lifting the trophy. Lionel Messi will be 35, and halfway into his expected stay at Qatar-funded Paris Saint-Germain, a marriage that, barely a month ago, seemed implausible.
Perhaps Kylian Mbappé, chief icon of the World Cup holders, France, will be man of the hour. Mbappé is so cherished by