HomeSportsThe best World Cup finals ever

    The best World Cup finals ever

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    The Lusail Iconic Stadium in Doha plays host to the 22nd FIFA World Cup Final as two nations attempt to inscribe themselves into football history.

    For first timers or regulars, the occasion is just as grand; just as significant.

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    Football’s ultimate game, however, has often disappointed over the years. With the two finalists so close to reaching the pinnacle, the primary focus is typically avoiding defeat as opposed to winning the game.

    Nevertheless, some finals over the years have bucked that trend. Here are 90min’s top five World Cup finals of all-time.

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    Gianluca Zambrotta, Luca Toni, Andrea Pirlo, Fabio Cannavaro, Daniele De Rossi, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Alessandro Del Piero
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    Italy celebrate their penalty shootout victory over France / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

    This was far from a high-quality classic, but the infamy surrounding the 2006 final will be eternally entrenched in football folklore.

    This should’ve been Zinedine Zidane’s crowning moment. The French maestro had spearheaded his country’s rise to the final, and he gave Les Bleus the lead against Italy with the deftest of panenka’s. Marco Materazzi quickly restored parity for the Azzurri, however, and it was the Italian defender who emerged as the unlikely protagonist/antagonist in Berlin.

    Provoked by a Materazzi comment, Zidane’s illustrious career concluded with a violent headbutt into the chest of the Italian. While missed by the referee, the incident was noticed by the fourth official and Zidane’s career subsequently ended in disgrace.

    Italy then prevailed in the shootout after David Trezeguet’s miss as Fabio Grosso, who must’ve got ahold of Tom Brady’s clutch gene that summer, scored the winning spot-kick.

    Tarcisio Brugnich, Pele

    Pele takes on Tarcisio Brugnich / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

    The 1970 final wasn’t much of a contest, but the footballing world was treated to the purest of exhibitions by one of the all-time great international sides.

    There was no stopping Brazil at the Azteca as they laid the sword down on a stubborn Italy outfit.

    Pele, in his final World Cup appearance, opened the scoring with an emphatic header before Roberto Boninsegna equalised six minutes before half-time following a sequence of errors in the Brazilian defence.

    The Selecao turned on the style after the break and their imperious second-half showing was ignited by a Gerson strike from distance just after the hour. Brazil, who purred from then on, were simply too much for the cautious Italians as Jairzinho poked home a third before Carlos Alberto netted one of the most iconic goals in World Cup history.

    The sequence, which culminated in Alberto’s strike, encapsulated this magisterial Brazil side that was blessed with superstars all over the pitch.

    Geoff Hurst

    England’s only World Cup glory came after a thrilling final with West Germany / Cattani/GettyImages

    England’s crowning glory came after a thrilling final with West Germany at Wembley in 1966. We’ve been hurt ever since.

    This was a back and forth contest that had a dramatic opening and closing with a lengthy period of tense serenity in the middle. Helmut Haller and Sir Geoff Hurst traded strikes in the opening 20 minutes before Martin Peters gave England the lead with 12 minutes remaining.

    Peters’ effort looked for all money to be the winner until Wolfgang Weber scrambled home a last-gasp equaliser to take the game to extra time. Let the drama commence…

    West Germany failed to capitalise on the momentum as the Three Lions roared back in the extended period. Hurst netted his second with an effort that probably didn’t cross the line before he sealed England’s triumph with an unforgettable sequence to round off the contest that was ably supported by Kenneth Wolstenholme in the commentary box.

    1954 World Cup Goal

    West Germany defeated the Mighty Magyars in the 1954 final / Keystone/GettyImages

    Bern’s Wankdorf Stadium was meant to be the theatre in which the team of the 50s were officially unveiled as the world’s best.

    Hungary’s Mighty Magyars were as revolutionary an outfit as we’ve ever seen and they appeared destined to claim glory at the 1954 World Cup. Hungary blitzed through the group stage and first two knockout rounds to reach the final, where they took on West Germany, whom they’d thrashed 8-3 in the group phase.

    But this would prove to be no coronation as the semi-professional Germans upset the odds after falling behind 2-0 in the opening exchanges. The spirited West Germany swiftly restored parity, however, before Helmut Rahn expertly netted the winner six minutes from time.

    The victory was dubbed the ‘Miracle of Bern’ in Germany in what’s regarded as one of the most significant events in the country’s sporting history. As for Hungary, that generation-defining side would never come so close to achieving the feat their majesty deserved again.

    Just the 173,850 (officially) crammed into the Maracana to watch the 1950 World Cup final between Uruguay and hosts Brazil with every single onlooker expecting a comfortable Selecao triumph.

    Uruguay had flattered to deceive on their way to the final while Brazil had purred. Such was the confidence of the host nation that many had declared them “future champions” in the build-up to the contest.

    Brazil’s arrogance inspired the Uruguayans, who were intent on roughing up their opponents as the game kicked off. After a goalless first half, Brazil took the lead two minutes after the restart through Friaça but it was this goal that completely altered the contest in the worst way possible for the hosts.

    Uruguay took full control thereafter as Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalised 66 minutes in before Alcides Ghiggia’s effort snuck under Barbosa to give Uruguay the lead 11 minutes from time. Silence descended upon the Maracana as the shell-shocked Brazilians failed to muster any sort of momentum in the closing stages.

    The defeat, until 2014, was regarded as the most traumatic in Brazilian football history.

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