In this post, we’ll dive into the FIFA World Cup history books and we’ll dig up some memorable finals that took place over the years.
MEMORABLE WORLD CUP FINALS
2006 France vs Italy
Hosted in Germany, the FIFA World Cup of 2006 was one of the greatest and most memorable football tournaments to date.
Finalists Italy obtained first place in their group, fending off Ghana, Czech Republic and the USA, registering seven points with two wins and a draw. In the round of 16, they were matched against Australia, where a 96th-minute penalty converted by Francesco Totti decided the tie. Italy then saw off Ukraine with a comfortable 3-0 win, placing them against Germany for the semi-finals. The game went to extra-time when Del Piero and Fabio Grosso scored within a minute of each other to book Italy’s place in the final.
On the other hand, France found it tricky to qualify from the group stages as they finished second in a group composed of Switzerland, South Korea and Togo. In the Round of 16, France faced neighbours Spain, who took an early lead, but strikes from Ribery, Vieira and Zidane decided the tie in favour of the Frenchmen. In the quarter-final, France faced a formidable Brazil squad who looked unbeatable on their day. Thierry Henry fired his squad to the semi-finals, which they won with a 1-0 victory over Portugal, placing them against Italy in the final.
The final had everything — from great saves by Buffon to a heated battle in the middle of the park, as well as drama at the end of the match. The FIFA World Cup was then decided on penalties, where Italy clinched their fourth World Cup win.
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfRkHzhM4vE
2010 Spain vs Netherlands
At the Johannesburg Stadium in South Africa, Spain won their very first World Cup in the history of their nation.
The eventual finalists, the Netherlands, topped their group with maximum points against Japan, Denmark and Cameroon. Star players Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben were on form as they won 2-1 against Slovakia in the Round of 16. In the quarter-finals, a brace from Wesley Sneijder won the tie against Brazil, securing the Oranje a place in the semi-finals. The Netherlands played an entertaining tie against Uruguay as they won 3-2 to book their place in Johannesburg for the final.
Spain secured first place in their respective group by goal difference as they drew on points with Chile. In the round of 16, Spain defeated Portugal in a 1-0 victory and an identical result followed in their favour in the quarter-finals against Paraguay. In the semi-final, Carles Puyol shone as Spain secured their third consecutive 1-0 win, reaching the Final — having yet to concede a goal in the knockout stages of the competition.
The final featured very few goal-scoring opportunities, save for a half-chance that Dutch winger Arjen Robben failed to capitalise from. In the second half, Fabregas saw his effort saved by Stekelenburg, but it was to be Andreas Iniesta’s night that day, since the Spaniard latched onto a through ball and netted his most memorable goal of his career, just four minutes before the final whistle.
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKSHgMqCwbQ
1950 Uruguay vs Brazil
Brazil hosted the World Cup after the previous editions were cancelled due to World Word 2.
Brazil started off the tournament with a formidable 4-0 win against Mexico on the opening day. Four days later, Brazil drew against Switzerland but they compensated for the lost points with a win against Yugoslavia, handing them the top spot of the group.
Uruguay on the other hand, only faced Bolivia in their group due to other teams pulling out of the tournament for various reasons. They won the only group match with an empathic scoreline of 8-0.
The structure of the tournament was different than it is nowadays. The last four teams used to play against each other and whoever gets the most points wins the tournament. That year, it was down to either Brazil or Uruguay, as Spain and Sweden fell to heavy defeats. At the Maracana, a world record attendance of 173,850 overlooked an Uruguay win, with Ghiggia scoring the winning goal late in the second half, much to the despair of the home crowd.
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu1WanatiAM