Free Press Journal

FIFA World Cup 2018: Here is a look at 10 of the greatest World Cup matches


FIFA World Cup is the show piece event of the most watched sport in the world. 2018 World Cup is just around the corner and we take a look at ten of the best World Cup matches every played. To be fair, 10 matches are not enough to do the justice what World Cup have produced over the decades but here are the 10 most memorable World Cup games of all times.

Germany 0-2 Italy (2006 World Cup Semi Final)

There have hardly been more dramatic finish to a World Cup knockout tie than when Italy Won against Germany in the 2006 World Cup semi-finals late in injury time through unlikely hero Fabio Grosso. Germans were favourites going into the game playing in front of crowd, but Italian defence and resilience gave the game another dimension. Both teams created chances, played quality football but failed to breakdown each other and off we went to extra time.

Image Source:

Where we similar scenario for most part and just when it looked like game is heading to penalties, after titanic battle Fabio Grosso curled one with his left foot in 119th minute sparking Italian celebrations. Italy added another minutes later thanks to Del Piero and qualify for final against France which they won and won their fourth world cup title.

Uruguay drew Ghana 1-1 (Won 4-2 on penalties) (2010 World Cup Quarterfinal)

Ghana were the feel-good story of the 2010 tournament as traditionally, African sides don’t get that far in the tournament. Their opponent in this quarter-final was Uruguay. In a back and forth game, Sulley Muntari scored a goal from 40 yards just before half time. Diego Forlan then scored with a free kick on the 55th minute. The game would end 1-1 meaning extra time was played.

The drama was saved for late in extra-time. Ghana were on the offensive knocking a free kick into the box. The ball then pinged around before Luis Suarez blocked a certain goal with a handball. With the last kick of the game, Asamoah Gyan smashed his penalty into the crossbar. The Uruguayans were jubilant, but the Ghanaians were distraught, despite still having a chance in the penalty shootout.

Forlan scored the first, remarkably, so did Gyan. Victorino, Appiah and Scotti all scored. John Mensah then missed, as did Pereira and Adiyiah meaning Sebastian Abreu needed to score to know Ghana out. He did and the dream was over.

Argentina beat England 2-1 (1986 Quarterfinal)

If ever game split opinion on the genius of Diego Maradona, it was this one. He created two of the most memorable World Cup moments in the space of four minutes. Just after half time, he produced the first, which has simply been remembered as ‘the Hand of God’. After a miscued clearance, Maradona somehow beat English keeper Peter Shilton to the ball. The answer was he used his hand to go over the outstretched Shilton, and the referee allowed it.

The next moment came just four minutes later in what is commonly known as ‘the goal of the century’. Maradona picked up the ball in his own half and proceeded to take it past five English defenders and the keeper before slotting it home. Maradona had taken over the game and England stood next to no chance at coming back. Gary Lineker did pull a consolation goal back in the 81st minute, but it was not enough.

This may be a stretch to call it one of the best games ever, but for sheer controversy and amazing moments, it is well up there.

Uruguay 2-1 Brazil (1950 World Cup Final)

Now this final has been a distant memory but it was till date the highest attended football match of all times with around 200,000 people watching it live in famous Estadio do Maracana.

1950 World Cup took place in Brazil and the format of the tournament was different than usual Cup events. Initially 16 teams were supposed to take part but 3 withdrew leaving FIFA to improvise with the format and they decided to have 4 groups (2 groups with four teams, 1 with three and 1 with just 2) and group Winners play another group stage deciding the Winner. Uruguay only had to play one game against Bolivia which they won 8-0 and qualify for final group stage. Where three other teams joined them with Brazil, Sweden and Spain.

Image Source:

It all came down to final group game between Brazil and Uruguay where Brazil only needed a draw to confirm them as champions but and they took the lead in 47th minute thanks to goal from Friaça. But Uruguay came roaring back into the game scoring twice in 66th an 79th minute to upset the odds and win their second World Cup in front of 200,000 angry Brazilian fans.

Netherlands beat Spain 5-1 (2014 World Cup)

Spain were the defending champions and were expected to contend for the 2014 World Cup. Their first match in the tournament was a rematch of the 2010 final, against the Netherlands.

They started well. Xabi Alonso converted an early penalty to go 1-0 up after half an hour, and then no one was expecting the onslaught that was about to befall the Spanish. Indeed, the class of the second goal should have been a premonition of what was to come.

Image Source:

Daley Blind floated a lovely ball over the Spanish defence and Robin Van Persie, instead of taking a touch, took the header first time and looped it over Iker Casillas. Spain came back again with chance after chance, taking advantage of the Dutch back three. David Silva should have scored but for a great save by Japser Cillessen.

Robin Van Persie then hit the crossbar with a thunderbolt, and it was becoming clear there are more goals in this tie. Arjen Robben then started the Dutch onslaught. He scored on the 53rd minute, Stefan de Vrij 11 minutes after that, and then after a Casillas mistake, Van Persie pounced to make it 4-1. Robben then dribble his way to another on the 80th minute.

West Germany 3-3 France (1982 World Cup Semifinal)

When we make any list of greatest World Cup matches, this West Germany vs France Semi-Final in historic 1982 World Cup has to be there and there about. Dubbed as German stamina against French Skill in game which had everything from start to finish

Littbarski had put Germany 1-0 in lead in just 17th minute but Michel Platini equalized through penalty minutes later. The game was 1-1 at halftime and then came one of the most memorable moment in the World Cup when Platini had put Patrick Battiston through on goal with a nicely crafted long bal, and just before Battiston headed the ball towards Goal, German keeper hurled himself at home with foot forward knocking Battiston unconscious and breaking two of his teeth. The ball went just wide of the Goal and referee waved play on for the astonishment of French and Germany keeper German stayed on the pitch without getting sent off.

Image Source:

Match went to extra time and France were leading 3-1 and it looked like all over for Germany but then came one of the greatest comebacks in history with Germany scoring twice Rummenigge and Fischer to take the game to penalties. Six and Bossis missed their spot kicks leaving Horst Hrubesch to score the decisive penalty and complete what was a remarkable turn around and put Germany in the finals of 1982 final where they ultimately lost against Italy.

Brazil 1-0 England, Group Stage 1970

If the World Cup in 1966 had given English football its greatest moment, then the 1970 match with Brazil gave it its most English. The guts, the valour, the crushing disappointment.

Brazil were the tournament favourites and boasted Pele and Jairzinho, but England were the holders, and, in Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks, had arguably the best defender and goalkeeper at the tournament.

Image Source:

Those four would go onto to define the match. Jairzinho scored the goal that won it but Pele, thwarted first by Banks, who produced one of the greatest saves ever, plunging to his right to tip a header around the post and then by Moore, whose tackle on O Rei has become iconic.

The image that has gone down in history was not any of these moments but the handshake that followed the match, as Pele and Moore, stripped to the waist in the 98° heat of Guadalajara, exchanged shirts. The photograph has gone into World Cup lore, exemplifying the spirit of fair play and respect between two of the greatest players ever to grace the tournament.

England 4-2 West Germany (1966 World Cup Final)

The 1966 tournament had its fair share of drama even before a ball was kicked. The trophy was stolen, a replica was made, and then the original was found in a hedge by Pickles the dog. Held in England, behind the play of stars like Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore, the hosts found themselves in the final against the mighty West Germany.

And to this day it is one of the most controversial matches in football and in the England-Germany rivalry. This is largely because of one moment in extra time. In the 101st minute Geoff Hurst hit a shot into the crossbar and down onto the line, to which Russian linesman Tofiq Bahramov ruled it had crossed the line to give the English a 3-2 lead.

Image Source:

With time dwindling down, the Germans pushed every up field. England then sealed the win with a break from Geoff Hurst who smashed the ball into the top corner to mark a 4-2 win. This of course can be remembered as Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous commentary line, “They think it’s all over – It is now!”

Brazil 2-3 Italy (1982 Second Round)

The 1982 Brazil side are widely regarded to be the greatest team never to win a World Cup, and that is largely because of this epic game where they were sent home by Italy. During the second round group stages, a staunch Italian defence, and the mercurial talent of Paolo Rossi, faced Zico, Socrates and the incredible Brazilians.

Image Source:

With the majority of the game taking place in the Italian half, chances were scarce for the Azzurri, but thanks to Rossi, when they got them, they scored. Rossi scored a sublime hat-trick to Brazil’s two goals from Socrates and Falcao. Italy then went on to win the tournament.

Italy 4-3 West Germany (1970 World Cup Semi Final)

Some games are best understood through their context – Argentina vs. England in 1986, for example, cannot be seen out with the knowledge of the Falklands conflict – and some can be taken simply for the sporting drama that they are. Italy vs. Germany 1970 is one of the latter.

The Italians went ahead after eight minutes and much as Germany pushed for an equalizer, they were thwarted by the Catennaccio, the defensive tactic perfected by the Italians. It failed though, in the final minute, when Karl-Heinz Schellinger (ironically an AC Milan player) sent the game into extra-time.

Gerd Muller gave the Germans the lead but was pegged back by Burgnisch. Riva put the Azzurri in front and Muller popped up again to level the scores. As the TV cameras were replaying Muller’s goal, Rivera met a cross at the other end to regain the lead for the Italians, which they were to hold on to.

The five goals scored in extra-time remains the World Cup record and the game was honored by a plaque on the wall of the Estadio Azteca, thanking the two nations for their efforts and proclaiming it “The Game of the Century.”