The World Cup Final should be the absolute cream of the crop, it should be the catwalk moment for the game everyone is watching. So, we’re hoping for fireworks in Moscow on 15 July.
The right combination of styles, drama, atmosphere and tension transcends football and becomes something bigger. It becomes a moment in history. Of course, we’ve had plenty of those in since the FIFA World Cup first kicked off in 1930. Here are some of our favourite moments.
Brazil hosted the 1950 World Cup and dominated the competition in the early rounds, securing a 7-1 win over Sweden and 6-1 over Spain. Uruguay, though, was different.
It wasn’t a straightforward final in those days and the group nature of the competition meant that a draw would give Brazil the World Cup. Uruguay had to win.
These were two South American nations at the top of their game where the free-flowing nature of football has been etched into the culture. Both sides attacked with gusto and flair, Brazil took the early lead and then the opposition dug deep.
200,000 people were in the Maracana Stadium. They had their hearts broken late in the game, when Alcides Ghiggia scored in the 79th minute to give Uruguay the win and the Jules Rimet Trophy.
This was one of the most hotly-contested and controversial World Cup finals of all time. It had all the ingredients of an unforgettable game and it did not disappoint.
England and Germany were natural rivals and the Second World War was still fresh in people’s memories. The chance to go to battle again, on the football field, was too good to be true.
England was the tournament host. At the time, the team was the best in living memory. Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks and Bobby Moore lined up against the young Franz Beckenbauer, Uwe Seeler and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger. The Germans took the lead, but England never gave up and equalised on the 47th minute, before taking the lead late in the game. It was almost enough, but a late goal from the Germans forced extra time.
11 minutes into added time, Geoff Hurst smashed the ball into the underside of the bar and it bounced close enough to the line for the referee to give the goal. Football fans debate to this day whether that goal should have stood and it’s the poster child for goal line technology. The linesman said no goal, the referee disagreed.
Hurst scored again, after the crowd started to invade the pitch, thinking the game was over. He is still the only player to score a hat-trick in a final.
In the 1950s, the Hungarian national team was one of the best. Hungarian Ferenc Puskas was generally considered the Lionel Messi of his time. They had already beaten Germany 8-3 in the group stages and the final looked like a formality. It didn’t follow the script.
Hungary took the lead in just six minutes and added a second shortly after, but the teams went in for half-time refreshments with the score tied at 2-2. In the second half, the two sides threw everything at each other and produced stunning, open football and a wealth of missed opportunities.
Germany scored with six minutes remaining. Puskas unbelievably then levelled the game with just two minutes left, only to see the goal ruled out. It was a famous victory for the German team and one of the best World Cup finals of all time.
This is the kind of clash of styles that makes the World Cup special. The hot-blooded and temperamental Mario Kempes and the rest of the South American giants went head-to-head with the famously cool Dutch, who were getting used to life without Johann Cruyff by this point.
Argentina had the home advantage but it almost didn’t matter. After the South Americans complained about the heavy cast on Dutch winger Rene van de Kerkhof’s arm, the Netherlands threatened to walk off en masse.
The game eventually got underway and it was marked by moments of pure class and then abject violence. It was an ill-tempered game and it ended 1-1. In extra time, the Argentinians simply wanted it more and muscled past the Dutch to take the win.
Brazil might just be the World Cup’s spiritual home. The South American nation really made this competition its own with a golden age in the 1960s and 70s.
Italy was a great team, perhaps the best in Europe, but they were simply no match for the Brazilians. The mighty Pele scored the first goal. Italy pegged them back and then Brazil simply ran them ragged.
It was a demonstration of pure footballing genius and a chance to see Brazil in full flow. This is why we love to watch football. It’s worth taking a trip down memory lane as we get ready for Moscow 2018.