The World Cup, that rolls around once every 4 years, has all the ingredients to make it a global spectacle. Apart from the Olympics, no other sporting event has as much reach and appeal as does the football World Cup. The Final of the World Cup is an occasion to embrace, a day when the best of the best lock horns to take a shot at the ultimate prize. Often, it is a one-time occurrence in a footballer’s life. We take a look at 10 World Cup Finals that remain etched in memory.
10. Argentina 3 – 2 West Germany, 1986 World Cup Final
The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City hosted the Final in 1986, with Diego Maradona’s Argentina squaring off against formidable West Germany.
The game looked all done and dusted when Argentina took a two-goal lead with 16 minutes remaining on the clock, but Germany fought back with goals from Rummenigge and Voller.
Argentina survived though, Burruchaga scoring the World Cup winning goal as Argentina took the biggest prize of football home the second time in 12 years.
9. West Germany 2 – 1 Netherlands, 1976 World Cup Final
Gerd Muller wrote his name into the history books with the winner in Germany’s World Cup Final triumph over favored Netherlands at the Olympiastadion in Munich.
After an early penalty awarded to the Dutch was converted, Germany took their time to get into the groove. When they did, they were unstoppable and denied the likes of Johan Cryuff and Co. the biggest prize in World Football.
8. Italy 1 – 1 (5 – 3) France, 2006 FIFA World Cup Final
It’s hard to think that a team comprising of the likes of Henry, Zidane, Trezeguet, Ribery and Vierra didn’t get their hands on the World Cup, but one look at the Final and you realize it was more controversial than football.
Zidane’s headbutt meant him being sent off, as his penalty was cancelled by Marco Materazzi’s header to take the match to penalties.
David Trezeguet missed the only penalty for the French as Italy won the World Cup for the first time since the turn of the millennium.
7. Argentina 3 – 1 Netherlands, 1978 World Cup Final
Argentina’s first ever World Cup triumph came at the expense of the Dutch, as two goals from Kempes would settle the matter in the La Albeiceste’s favour.
Netherlands did come back strongly to equalize through Dick Nanniga but Mario Kempes scored again in extra time to win it for the South Americans. The story could have been a whole lot different had Rob Resenbrink’s shot gone in off the post and not out.
6. Brazil 4 – 1 Italy, 1970 World Cup Final
The World Cup that made Pele the greatest football player of all time is this one. The Final, organized in Mexico City, had Brazil facing Italy and it went only one way.
The South American’s skill and mastery dominated the Italians as they pumped in 4 past one of the best defenses in the World at the time.
5. France 4 – 2 Croatia, 2018 FIFA World Cup Final
In many ways, this was the World Cup where the ghosts of the past were buried, new heroes rose and the World saw a Croatian side led by Luka Modric almost conquer the World.
Almost! France, powered by the likes of Paul Pogba, Antione Griezmann, and Kylian Mbappe, smashed four goals past Croatia in the Final, a feat that only Brazil had managed way back in 1970. Mbappe became the first teenage goalscorer in a World Cup Final, after Pelé himself.
4. Germany 1 – 0 Argentina, 2014 FIFA World Cup Final
A World Cup Final full of drama culminated in Mario Götze’s winner ousting the great Lionel Messi and depriving him of his World Cup winners’ medal at the Maracana in Brazil.
The Player of the Tournament, Lionel Messi’s Argentina held the Germans off till extra time, until Mario Götze turned in André Schürrle’s cross into Sergio Romero’s net.
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3. Spain 1 – 0 Netherlands, 2010 FIFA World Cup Final
Spain won the World Cup for the first time in history thanks to a brilliant extra time goal by Spain and Barca legend Andres Iniesta.
The game was toiling to a boring end before Cesc Fabregas came on for Spain and injected some creativity into the attack, ultimately breaking down the Dutch resistance and allowing Iniesta to run into space, score past Chillesen and give Spain the World Cup in South Africa.
2. France 3 – 0 Brazil, 1998 FIFA World Cup Final
This was as much Zinedine Zidane’s World Cup as it was anyone else’s. A brace from Zidane in the final on either side of a Petit goal meant France overcame favorites Brazil 3-0 at the Parc des Princes to land their first World Cup crown.
The team was captained by Didier Deschamps, who went on to also win the World Cup as a coach in 2019. To overcome the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano is some feat in itself.
1. England 4 – 2 West Germany, 1966 FIFA World Cup Final
The Three Lions’ only World Cup win to date came under much controversial circumstances against arch-rivals West Germany in 1966. After the game was locked 2-2 in regulation time, it went to extra time where an English goal was allowed to make the score 3-2 in England’s favor.
Till date, controversy rages over whether the ball crossed the line or not. England added another to kill any hopes of German recovery as they ran out 4-2 winners on the night.