Its a tournament known for giving us matches to remember for the ages, so we take a trip down memory lane to look back at some of the best.
Pulling on their country’s jersey and walking out onto the biggest stage of them all at the FIFA World Cup is the dream of every player. Some excel under the pressure while others crack, but the competition never fails to produce matches and moments that will forever remain in our memory.
With the next edition of the quadrennial competition upon us, we take a look back through the ages at the best matches of World Cups gone by:
Hungary Vs West Germany, 1954 – (2-3)
West Germany took on Hungary’s golden generation at Goodison Park in 1954 to overcome all the odds stacked against them. The game itself carried the weight of the political and social tensions between the two countries following the Second World War. The game has gone down in history as one of the most iconic of all-time.
England Vs West Germany, 1966 – (4-2)
The founders of football, England, finally won the World Cup in 1966 and haven’t won a major tournament since. The team that boasted of the likes of Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore in its ranks, put four past a resilient German side to win the World Cup, after the game was tied at 2-2 in regulation time. Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick saw the hosts win the tournament.
The time when England owned everything
West Germany Vs Italy, 1970 – (4-3) a.e.t
Italy took the lead in the battle of the European giants before the Germans equalized with a last-gasp attack in the 90th minute to send the game into extra-time. The extension brought with it a flurry of five goals, two of which were scored by the legendary Gerd Muller to guide the Germans to a thrilling victory.
Brazil Vs Italy, 1970 – (4-1)
This game was the first time that the two giants had met in a final. That Brazilian squad is considered to be one of the best of all-time with the likes of Pele, Carlos Alberto, Tostao and Jairzinho in its ranks.
Pele inspired the South Americans to a resounding victory over the Italians, firmly cementing his claim for the throne of the best player of all time. We may never see a team that plays with the flair and panache of the Brazilians of 1970.
Argentina Vs England, 1986 – (2-1)
This game has gone down in history as the day that the world was truly introduced to the brilliance and the “by any means necessary” attitude of Diego Maradona.
The quarterfinal between the two footballing giants is remembered as one of the best games in footballing history. Maradona leaped with his hand raised over his head to score the infamous “Hand of God” goal past Peter Shilton.
The Hand of God and the Goal of the Century
Four minutes later, the little Argentinian showed the beauty in his play by dribbling past the entire English defence to score one of the best goals of all-time. Argentina would go on to win the tournament, lifting the trophy for the second time in eight years.
Romania Vs Argentina, 1994 – (3-2)
The game was marred with ill-feeling on the side of the Argentinians after their talisman, Maradona was left out of the squad after failing a drug test. In addition to this, the Argentinian side had to face accusations that they had finished third in their group on purpose, favouring a supposedly easier game against Romania to one against Italy.
In the event, they were swept aside by the Romanians and even a late flourish could not save them.
Argentina Vs Netherlands, 1998 – (1-2)
The game in the 1998 World Cup was set alight by a brilliant Dennis Bergkamp goal that saw the Oranje take their revenge on the South Americans for the defeat that was inflicted on them in the final of the 1978 World Cup, held in Argentina. The match and the goal make this game one of the most iconic in recent memory.
Brazil Vs Turkey, 2002 – (2-1)
The Brazilian team from 2002 could boast of some of the true legends of the game, with the iconic 3R’s (Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho) laying waste to opposition defences. The legendary team would go on to win the tournament by beating Germany in the final.
However, the story could have been very different if the Korean referee Kim Jung-yoo had made the correct decisions in one of Brazil’s group games against Turkey.
The game featured a much talked about controversy with the Brazilian legend Rivaldo
The Turks took an early lead before Ronaldo met Rivaldo’s cross to equalize for the Brazilians. The game was marred in controversy when the referee signalled for a penalty for a foul that clearly took place outside the box.
Rivaldo converted the penalty to send the Brazil fans into raptures. However, the controversy deepened when Rivaldo faked an injury at the corner flag, prompting the referee to send off Hasan Unsal.
Ghana Vs Uruguay, 2010 – (1-1) (4-2 on penalties)
The 2010 World Cup, played in South Africa is one of the most colourful and vibrant in recent history. By the quarterfinal stage, Ghana were the only African team still in the tournament and they carried the hopes of an entire continent on their shoulders. Luiz Suarez, the Uruguayan forward committed a blatant handball to clear a goal-bound shot off the line, earning himself a red card and the opposition a penalty, which the Ghanaian hero, Asamoah Gyan subsequently squandered. Uruguay would go on to win the game on penalties, progressing to the semi-finals of the tournament.
Brazil Vs Germany, 2014 – (1-7)
The eyes of the world watched on as the five-time world champions, Brazil played host to the 2014 edition of the World Cup, led by the golden boy of the generation, Neymar. But, disaster struck when Neymar was injured ruling him out of the rest of the competition. The shaken hosts took on a typically efficient German squad in the semi-finals of the competition without their talisman.
The most iconic game in the recent history
The Germans wasted no time in putting the South Americans to the sword by putting seven goals past Julio Cesar. The loss saw Brazil boss Luiz Filipe Scolari step down from his position and had an impact on the mentality of the squad for years following the event.
The FIFA World Cup has provided us with moments that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. As the next edition of the quadrennial competition rolls around, the excitement is rising. Only time will tell what iconic moments and matches are in store for us.