The FIFA World Cup is undoubtedly the biggest football tournament in the world, bringing together the best players from every corner of the globe. Over the years, the tournament has produced countless memorable moments, but perhaps the most iconic is the finals themselves.
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From nail-biting finishes to unforgettable performances, the World Cup finals have provided fans with some of the most memorable moments in football history.
In this article, we’ll take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most memorable World Cup finals in history, reliving the magic of these iconic games and exploring the factors that made them so special.
1970 World Cup Final: Brazil vs Italy
Many consider one of the all-time great football games to be the 1970 World Cup final. The championship game, which took place in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, pitted Brazil and Italy against one another.
Widely regarded as one of the best football teams ever put together, Brazil’s squad was captained by the famous Pele.
Conversely, Italy boasted an impenetrable defence that had yet to concede a goal throughout their journey to the final.
Both sides engaged in aggressive play throughout the contest, producing a fantastic offensive football display.
Pele’s remarkable performance in the final earned his team a resounding victory and solidified his position as one of the most legendary footballers of all time.
The 1970 final stands as a testament to the rare combination of skill, talent, and artistry that makes football a beloved and revered sport around the globe.
1986 World Cup Final: Argentina vs West Germany
Argentina and West Germany engaged in an exciting matchup in the 1986 FIFA World Cup final, held at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, with over 114,000 spectators present.
The defending champions Argentina, captained by Diego Maradona, were adamant about keeping their crown. Opposite them, West Germany had a young, ambitious team keen to make their name on the international scene.
Both teams scored in a tightly contested first half to tie the score at one goal each at the break. Maradona seized the initiative in the second half of the match.
He first set up Jorge Burruchaga for the game-winning goal before scoring one of the most recognizable goals in World Cup history, the “Hand of God.” Maradona was named player of the tournament as Argentina triumphed with a 3-2 victory.
The 1986 World Cup will be remembered as an event that captivated the hearts and imaginations of sports fans worldwide after Maradona’s stupendous performance in the championship game cemented his place as one of football’s all-time greats.
1998 World Cup Final: France vs Brazil
In a match between two footballing behemoths, France and Brazil squared off in the 1998 World Cup final at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Over 80,000 spectators packed the stadium to capacity in anticipation of the match.
France faced a tough Brazilian squad, despite being the host country. Didier Deschamps, the French team’s captain, led them in an outstanding performance that resulted in a 3-0 victory.
Zinedine Zidane proved to be the driving force behind France’s historic victory, scoring two goals in the championship game, including one stunning header.
The way France played in this final added to its already extraordinary nature. Three players consistently threatened the Brazilian defence: Thierry Henry, Youri Djorkaeff, and Zinedine Zidane. It is still one of the most memorable World Cup finals in history because of this triumph, a turning point in French football history.
2014 World Cup Final: Germany vs Argentina
The 2014 World Cup final was a highly anticipated match between two footballing powerhouses, Germany and Argentina, staged at Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracan stadium.
This was not the first time these two countries had met on the biggest platform; they had previously met in the 1986 and 1990 finals.
Germany entered the game as the apparent favourite after thrashing the host country Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals. Thought to be the best player in the world at the time, Lionel Messi spearheaded a star-studded attack for Argentina led by a strong defence.
Both teams had chances but could not break the tie during the tense and closely contested match. Mario Götze scored the game-winning goal for Germany in the 113th minute after superbly handling a cross from André Schürrle with his chest and volleying it past Sergio Romero of Argentina.
Argentina made a strong drive in the last minutes, but Germany’s staunch defence held firm, claiming their fourth World Cup victory and elevating them to the most successful European team in the event’s history. With his amazing match-winning strike, Götze deservedly earned the title of player of the game.
For some German players, including the captain Philipp Lahm, who announced his retirement from international football following the competition, the 2014 World Cup final also signalled the end of an era.
[It may interest you that Lahm is one of the few players who never had a red card in their career.]
2022 World Cup Final: Argentina vs France
Another great match occurred on December 18, 2022, in the bustling city of Lusail, amidst the stunning architecture and masses of people. The 2022 World Cup final featured Argentina and France, the reigning champions, and was a spectacle that will forever be etched into football history.
France’s Kylian Mbappé scored two goals to equalize for France before Messi restored Argentina’s lead in extra time. Mbappé scored another penalty for his and France’s third goal before Argentina won 4-2 on penalties.
Messi indisputably clinched the game’s Player of the Match award owing to his remarkable exhibition on the field.
The 2022 World Cup final also symbolized the culmination of an epoch for certain Argentine players, including Messi himself, who declared retirement from international football after the competition.
It was a fitting end to the gruelling journey these players had embarked upon to ascend to the pinnacle of football.
The FIFA World Cup finals deliver some of the most memorable moments in football. In 1970, Brazil put on an outstanding display of attacking football to defeat Italy 4-1, and it was a sight to behold.
Pele was in his element, scoring two goals and creating another. His performance solidified his place as one of the all-time greats.
The 1986 World Cup Final was a masterpiece, with Diego Maradona’s wizardry leaving spectators in awe. It was like watching magic happen on the field.
His “Hand of God” and “Goal of the Century” are still discussed today.
In 1998, France secured their maiden World Cup victory with a resounding 3-0 win over Brazil in the final.
Zinedine Zidane put on a masterful display, netting twice and setting up another, ultimately earning him the coveted tournament’s best player accolade.
The 2014 final was a nail-biting encounter, with Germany edging out Argentina 1-0 in extra time thanks to Mario Gotze’s sensational goal. And in 2022, Argentina and France faced off in a highly anticipated match that will be forever etched in football history.
These finals remain hallowed in the minds of football fans as a testament to the grandeur, excitement, and theatrics of the beautiful game.
From Pele’s dazzling performance in 1970 to the nail-biting 2022 final between Argentina and France, the FIFA World Cup finals always deliver some of the most iconic moments in football history. They will continue to captivate fans for generations to come.