The 2022 FIFA World Cup has recently finished in Qatar and even long-time soccer fans have been talking about how the final might have been the best of all time. Argentina eventually won on penalty kicks but had looked in full control early on – before a Kylian Mbappe-inspired comeback.
It meant that Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player of all time, finally was able to count himself as a World Cup winner. He had said that it would be his last finals – although he may have changed his mind now. Many of the soccer betting apps had made Argentina the favorite – but was it really the greatest ever? Here are five others that could be used as an argument against that viewpoint.
1970 – Brazil vs. Italy
It is not as though the 1970 World Cup final was a closely contested game. Brazil thrashed Italy 4-1. But everything about the tournament is memorable, as it was one of the first to be broadcast around the world in color. Those vivid yellows and blues were out on show in the final, played at the iconic Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
It was also the last of Pele’s World Cup triumphs – his third in all. He scored one of the goals and was instrumental throughout, as Brazil completely outclassed an Italy team that was famed for its defensive strength. The fourth goal is one of the best of all time – and just another reason why Brazil is regarded as the king of soccer.
1986 – Argentina vs. West Germany
Another World Cup in Mexico – and this time it was dominated by Argentina’s Diego Maradona. He was simply unplayable throughout the tournament and scored two very memorable goals in the quarterfinal against England. He scored two more in the semifinal against Belgium before orchestrating the final.
Argentina went into a two-goal lead before being pegged back by West Germany in the second half. But Maradona was on hand again to provide a defense-splitting pass that allowed Burrachaga to score the winner and provide Argentina with its second World Cup triumph in the three most recent tournaments.
1954 – West Germany vs. Hungary
Hungary was the huge favorites to win the 1954 World Cup and had been dubbed the ‘Magnificent Magyars’ ever since thrashing England at the home of soccer, Wembley Stadium, in 1953. This was supposed to be Hungary’s coronation – but it didn’t work out like that.
Hungary did actually take a commanding two-goal lead within the first ten minutes, suggesting that it was the champion-elect. But West Germany fought back valiantly, making the score 2-2 before even 20 minutes had been played. Helmet Rahn eventually scored the winner for West Germany six minutes from time – and the ‘Miracle of Bern’ was born.
Figure 2 Zidane’s headbutt has even been made into a statue
2006 – Italy vs. France
To be completely honest, the 2006 World Cup final in Germany was not one of the most brilliant and captivating games in the tournament’s history. Italy ended up winning its fourth title on penalties after the game finished in a 1-1 draw. But there is one iconic moment that this game will be remembered for all time.
Zinedine Zidane, playing in his final game for France, had opened the scoring early on. Italy’s Marco Materazzi then equalized and the two sides played the rest of the game out. But in extra time those two players came together in an off the ball incident when Zidane headbutted Materazzi. The French star was sent off and Italy went on to hold its nerves in the penalty shoot-out.
1966 – England vs. West Germany
This is another World Cup final that will forever be tainted by controversy. England was the host of the 1966 tournament but fell behind in the final as early as the 12th minute. The host equalized soon after and then took a supposedly decisive lead 12 minutes from time. But West Germany leveled once again in the 89th minute, forcing the game into extra time.
Just before the end of the first period of extra time, Geoff Hurst struck his second goal to give England the lead. But replays have shown the ball hit the bar and then didn’t actually cross the line. The linesman said it was a goal though and Hurst went on to get another right at the end. It was the only time anyone had ever scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final before Kylian Mbappe scored three in Qatar.