WORLD CUP FINALS OF ALL TIME
WORLD CUP FINALS OF ALL TIME
By Rashmi Goel
There is no greater accomplishment for a footballer than reaching the World Cup final. It is the ultimate display of drama, reward, and heartache in sports. World Cup finals have produced countless memorable moments since 1930 when the first one was played. The victors are immortalized in a match that is characterized by late victories, stirring comebacks, and controversy. In Doha, the Lusail Iconic Stadium hosted the 22nd FIFA World Cup Final as the two nations attempt to make history in the sport. It is just as significant and grand for both first-timers and regulars. However, over the course of the years, football's ultimate game has often disappointed. In the finals, with the two finalists so close to reaching the top, avoiding defeat is more important than winning. Here are some finals that have defied this trend over the years.
2022 - Argentina vs France (3-3) (4-2 on penalties)
Two absolute goliaths of the sport go head-to-head with everything to play for and the game lives up to the billing and beyond. In the final of the 2022 World Cup, Lionel Messi and Argentina faced Kylian Mbappe and France, a match that resembled Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2008. It was Messi and Mbappe who stood out for Argentina and France, each representing their nation - one as the greatest player of all time, the other as the young pretender to the throne, poised to become the greatest striker in history. A cool penalty from Messi sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way before a filthy flick with the outside of his left boot put Argentina 2-0 up. In just a minute, he rifled in a sensational volley past the despairing dive of Emi Martinez after scoring from the penalty spot after a needless foul from Nicolas Otamendi. This is chaos. In extra time, Messi restored the lead, sending Argentina supporters into a frenzy around the world. Like all great champions, Mbappe reached down from within and sunk yet another penalty with calmness and quality. Both players scored penalties in the shootout that followed before Martinez cemented his own place in Argentine folklore by saving Kingsley Coman's penalty in addition to making sure Aurelien Tchouameni missed his own penalty. With Argentina's fourth penalty, Gonzalo Montiel ended the greatest World Cup final ever.
2018 - France vs Croatia (4-2)
Although France might have been more lucky than good in the first half, they proved why they deserved to win the World Cup in the second half. Two sensational goals were scored by Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe during the second period. The first half of the match saw France have zero shot attempts. The team went into the break with a 2-1 lead thanks to an own goal and a VAR penalty. Croatia went into halftime likely perplexed to be trailing, 2-1, after a sensational goal from Ivan Perisic. Although Croatia came out of the locker room with more energy, the tide changed when the best player at this World Cup was substituted. After getting a yellow card early, N'Golo Kante never recovered. As soon as Steven Nzonzi entered the game in his place, France's intensity increased, and they began to look dangerous. The third goal was scored by Pogba five minutes later after he started a long counterattack. In a matter of minutes, Mbappe sealed the victory, becoming the second teenager to score in a World Cup, after Pele. As France won their second World Cup following a Hugo Lloris howler, Croatia never created another major opportunity.
2014 - Germany vs Argentina (0-0) (1-0 on Penalties)
Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain missed an opportunity to score in the first half when he was one on one with Germany's Manuel Neuer, while Benedikt Höwedes' shot struck the goalpost shortly before half-time. After halftime, Lionel Messi had an opportunity to score when he was one-on-one with Neuer, but his low shot missed the target. 71 minutes into the match, Thomas Müller was through on goal following a build-up between André Schürrle and Mesut Özil, but he failed to control the ball and lost it to Argentina's goalkeeper, Sergio Romero. After 90 minutes of play, the match went to extra time, in which Germany broke the deadlock. After being introduced as a substitute shortly before the end of normal time, Mario Götze received Schürrle's cross from the left on his chest, before volleying a left-footed shot into the net to secure a 1–0 victory for the Germans.
2010 - Spain vs Netherlands (0-0) (1-0 on penalties)
The Netherlands has lost another final in a row. Having finished the second three times, the Dutch public has experienced disappointment. Both the Netherlands and Spain entered World Cup 2010 as notorious underachievers on the international stage. With Spain having won Euro 2008, it was hardly surprising when Andres Iniesta's extra-time goal sparked scenes of hysteria. There is no doubt that both nations are renowned for the beauty of their football, but unfortunately, this game was a bloodbath. There were 14 yellow cards issued in this match, including a sending-off for Everton defender Johnny Heitinga. The absurd kung-fu kick thrown by Nigel De Jong into the chest of Xabi Alonso should have also led to Nigel De Jong's dismissal from the match.
2006 - Italy vs France (1-1) (5-3 On Penalties)
In terms of football, the 2006 World Cup final in Germany is unlikely to be remembered. As soon as Zinedine Zidane scored a penalty in the opening stages of the match and Marco Materazzi equalized after 20 minutes had passed, both players would blot their personal history with a moment of madness toward the end of the match. By making unsavory comments about his sister, Materazzi provoked the balding Frenchman. Zidane headbutted the notorious troublemaker to the ground during one of the most memorable moments in football history. After being shown a red card, Zidane's stellar career ended in disappointment as Italy won the match on penalties.
2002 - Brazil vs Germany (2-0)
In the previous World Cup final, Brazil lost to France 3-0, a game that had been surrounded by controversy following reports that Brazil's star striker was ill prior to the game. Brazil's performance was clearly affected by Ronaldo's illness. In 2002, Ronaldo and his colleagues were given the opportunity to make things right, which they duly did. In the second half, Ronaldo scored both of Brazil's goals to seal a deserved win and reaffirm Brazil's status as the world's best team. In 2002, Brazil was an unstoppable force thanks to Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho up front, as well as Cafu and Roberto Carlos at wing-back.
1998 - France vs Brazil (3-0)
In terms of the final, France 98 produced a memorable event, although not entirely for the right reasons. There was a great deal of pressure on France as they faced Brazil and Ronaldo, the star striker of the Brazil national team. Several reports surfaced prior to the game that Ronaldo would not play. According to reports, Ronaldo suffered a fit shortly before kick-off and his name was not included on the initial team roster. Even so, the star striker began the game looking like a shadow of his former self, as did his teammates, who were clearly affected by the events of the previous day. However, France and especially Zidane dominated the game with the talisman scoring twice to give France a commanding lead. France captured their first World Cup title thanks to a late goal from Petit. To this day, it remains a mystery as to what actually happened to Ronaldo prior to the final, and the real truth may never be known.
1994 - Brazil vs Italy (0-0) (5-4 on Penalties)
There were 94,194 in attendance at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles for the Final on the 17th of July 1994. Romario de Souza Faria is on one side. Roberto Baggio, on the other hand. The tragic events at Sarriá Stadium in 1982 were still fresh in the minds of Brazilians. As well as seeking their fourth title, the Italians were also mindful of the fact that Brazil had won fairly convincingly the last time both teams met in a final. There was a little goal-scoring opportunity for either team, as both teams were very cautious. Until the end of extra time, there was no goal on the scoreboard. The world title would be decided on penalties for the first time in history. Brazilian Marcio Santos and Italian Franco Baresi both missed the first penalty attempt. The penalties were scored by Romario and Branco for Brazil. A Demetrio Albertini goal and an Alberigo Evani goal made Italy the winner. It was Daniele Massaro who missed for Italy, but Dunga scored for Brazil. Roberto Baggio took his penalty in a manner that no one anticipated. The forward's penalty was critical to Italy's World Cup hopes. After sending his shot over the bar, the player responsible for carrying the not-so-brilliant Azzurra ended up as a villain.
1990 - West Germany vs Argentina (1-0)
An anticlimactic penalty kick six minutes before the end of the championship game at the Olympic Stadium decided the World Cup. Although the decision made by the referee that led to the game's only goal may not have been fair, justice prevailed when West Germany defeated Argentina, 1-0, on Sunday. A penalty kick from defender Andreas Brehme barely eluded the diving fingertips of Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Javier Goycochea in the 84th minute, however, to give the West Germans a goal. Referee Edgardo Codesal Mendez, a Mexican resident, awarded the penalty kick after Argentine defender Roberto Sensini fouled West German forward Rudi Voeller after Stefan Reuter served Voeller with a pass in the penalty area.