Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

In what may have been the most extraordinary World Cup final ever, Argentina beat France in large part because of Lionel Messi, who played a career-defining game. In what he said would be his last World Cup game, Messi scored two of the team’s three goals as well as the first goal in the team’s penalty shootouts.

Argentina scored two goals in the first half, as France seemed slack and uncertain. Then, in the space of less than two minutes in the second half, Kylian Mbappé scored back-to-back goals for France, tying the game. In extra time, Messi and Mbappé each scored a goal. Finally, in the shootout, Argentina won on penalties, 4-2, as the crowd in Qatar burst into tears of joy and grief.

For Mbappé, it was a devastating result, his coach, Didier Deschamps, said. “Kylian has really left his mark on this final,” he said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t leave it in the way he would have liked. That’s why he was so disappointed at the end of the night.” France, which won the last World Cup, had hoped to be the first country to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962.

Buenos Aires: “Grown men are sobbing,” my colleague Jack Nicas reported from Argentina’s capital, minutes before the game ended. “‘Argentina, mi amor!’ the man next to me just shouted, tears streaming down his face.”

Messi: He left Argentina at age 13 and has lived in the shadow of Diego Maradona, who hoisted the World Cup trophy for Argentina 36 years ago. Now, the country has unequivocally embraced Messi, who won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

A team of New York Times reporters investigated one of the central questions of the war in Ukraine: Why has Russia bungled its invasion so badly?

The report — based on secret battle plans, intercepts and interviews with Russian soldiers and Kremlin confidants — offers new insights into the state of mind of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president; the stunning failures of his military; and U.S. efforts to prevent a direct war with Russia.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Some Russian soldiers described being sent to war with little food, training, bullets or equipment — and watching about two-thirds of their underprepared platoon be killed.

  • Many of the people closest to Putin fed his suspicions, magnifying his grievances against the West.

  • The U.S. sought to stop Ukraine from trying to kill Valery Gerasimov, a top Russian general. American officials were worried that an attempt on his life could lead to a war between the U.S. and Russia. Gerasimov survived the attack.

  • A senior Russian official told the C.I.A. director that Russia would not give up, no matter how many of its soldiers were killed or injured. One NATO member has warned allies that Putin might accept the death or injury of as many as 300,000 Russian troops. Here’s how Russian data journalists calculate Moscow’s toll from the war.

  • Invading Russian soldiers used their cellphones to call home, enabling the Ukrainian military to find and kill them. Phone intercepts obtained by The Times showed the bitterness Russian soldiers felt toward their own commanders.

The latest news: Ukraine is bracing for the possibility that Russia will sharply escalate the war in a winter offensive as Moscow tries to limit political backlash at home.

Taraneh Alidoosti, a prominent Iranian actress whose credits include the Academy Award winner “The Salesman,” was arrested by local authorities in Iran on Saturday after she posted messages on social media expressing solidarity with antigovernment protests that have rocked the country for nearly three months.

She was arrested in connection with what state news media described as “unsubstantiated comments about recent events” and “the publication of provocative material,” in one of the highest-profile detentions the Iranian authorities have made in their effort to crack down on a women-led uprising that started in September.

Alidoosti drew attention after posting a photo of herself without a hijab while holding a sign signaling her support for protesters, who have been calling for an end to authoritarian clerical rule in Iran. After the Iranian government announced that it had hanged a protester, Alidoosti urged people to speak out. “Your silence means supporting oppression and oppressors,” she wrote.

Digital footprint: The actress’s Instagram account appears to have been removed from the platform, and her Twitter account seems to have been suspended. Her recent posts were no longer viewable.

Church leaders in the U.S. are grappling with what may seem like an odd problem: Christmas Day falls on a Sunday for the first time since 2016.

Most Protestants do not attend services on Christmas Day when it falls on a weekday, let alone a Sunday. If everyone from the pews to the pulpit would rather stay home, what’s a practical house of worship to do? This year, some Protestant churches are skipping the services altogether.

Related: New York City is one of the most spiritually diverse places in the world.

Argentina beats France to win the World Cup: One of the most exciting World Cup finals of all time was won on penalties, despite the French superstar Kylian Mbappé’s hat trick.

Lionel Messi doesn’t need the ball to hurt you: A look at why and where Messi walks — and how he doesn’t need the ball to torment defenses.

Why the Argentina goalkeeper is so good at saving penalties: Emi Martinez was in formidable form for his country in Qatar and stood up to be counted against France.

Barbie’s first Dreamhouse, released in 1962, was a folding cardboard ranch house. In the decades since, it has become plastic, pastel, palatial and electrified. Later incarnations may feature an elevator, a sun deck, modern European furniture, recycling bins and multiple bedrooms — even as Barbie remains perennially single.

To honor this 60-year milestone, Mattel collaborated with the design magazine PIN-UP on the book “Barbie Dreamhouse: An Architectural Survey,” which tracks the evolution of Dreamhouses through six examples, shown with their original furnishings and architectural blueprints.

The book examines the cultural forces that shaped the Dreamhouses over the decades, including Queen Anne Victorianism, midcentury modernism and back-to-the-land granola-ism.

It also quotes writers, artists and architects on how Barbitecture shaped their own psyches. “Barbie’s house is infinitely more exciting than Barbie herself,” writes Elvia Wilk, a cultural critic. “The structures we live within — fantasize about living within — say more about our lives and dreams than plastic bodies ever will.”

See Barbie’s Dreamhouse through the ages.

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