FIFA World Cup Primer:

Here are the Best Matches of All Time

By Desiree Pore

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: now that the NBA Finals is over, it’s time for another great sporting event to take the spotlight; the World Cup is back once again, this time in Russia! Before we witness another historic World Cup action, take a look back at some of the greatest football matches in history that made a mark to every football fans throughout the world.

1. Italy v West Germany (4-3), 1970

Known as the “Game of the Century”, Italy was set to take the match when Roberto Boninsegna scored on the 8th minute of the game. The West Germans equalized during the end of the second half thanks to AC Milan player Karl-Heinz Schellinger, forcing the game to go to extra-time. What happened next was an exchange of greatness between the two teams, with Italy going to another World Cup Final.


2. Argentina v England (2-1), 1986

The longstanding rivalry between the two highly competitive teams reached its peaked during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals. In a span of just 4 minutes, football legend Diego Maradona scored two of the greatest and most controversial goals in the history of World Cup. Six minutes into the second half, Maradona produced the controversial “Hand of God” goal, when he reached the ball with his hand against goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

Four minutes after that infamous goal, Maradona again scored a goal that would be known as the “Goal of the Century”; Maradona successfully weaved through five English defenders and again Shilton, leaving the English team stunned and bewildered.


3. England v West Germany (4-2), 1966

One of the most dramatic and most watched finals game in World Cup history, England won the match in the most controversial way (which is still being debated to this day) due to what went down during the extra-time. During the 101st minute of the game, Geoff Hurst hit a shot into the crossbar then bounced out. Russian linesman Tofiq Bahramov awarded the goal to the team, giving them a 3-2 lead. Hurst completed his hat trick and gave England the win, with BBC’s Kenneth Wolstenholme enthusiastically announced “They think it’s all over – It is now!”


4. Italy v Brazil (3-2), 1982

Considered as one of the greatest games in World Cup history, Brazil’s 1982 team consisted of Socrates, Falcao, and Zico, one of the most talented Brazilian line-ups in history. Thanks to Italy’s hard defense and Paolo Rossi’s hat-trick, Italy went on to win the match and the World Cup, again with the heroics of Rossi.

5. Brazil v Germany (1-7), 2014

With Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup, everything was on the line for the Brazilian team. Everything was going smoothly for the Brazilians until they faced Germany in the semi-finals. During the match’s 11th minute, the Germans started their reign of terror when Thomas Muller sidefoots the ball towards the goal. In just 30 minutes, Germany was able to score 5 goals against Brazil, marking the end of the host nation’s run to the World Cup championship. The match will forever go down as a “national humiliation” for the Brazilians.


6. Spain v Netherlands (1-5), 2014

After the world saw Spain winning the 2010 World Cup against the Netherlands, a sequel match between the two teams happened during the next World Cup. The Spaniards drew first blood, with Xabi Alonso scoring the penalty. But that’s where the Spaniards’ reign over the Dutch ends. Robin Van Persie’s insane header (one of the best head goals) equalized the game. With another assist by Daley Blind, Arjen Robben scored the second goal for the Dutch team. Suffice to say, the Dutch annihilated the defending champions with a 5-1 win.


7. Argentina v England (4-3 on penalties), 1998

The sequel to their infamous 1986 World Cup match, the 1998 World Cup quarter finals match between the bitter rivals saw a dramatic exit for the English team and David Beckham receiving a red card. During the match’s first half, 18-year old Michael Owen gave his team a 2-1 lead when he skipped past several Argentine defenders.

During the second half, golden boy David Beckham was given a red card by referee Kim Milton Nielsen for kicking Diego Simeone. Argentina went on to win 4-3 on penalties, and Beckham was heavily vilified by the press.


8. West Germany v France (5-4 on penalties), 1982

One of the most controversial and iconic matches in World Cup history; the 1982 World Cup semi-final game between West Germany and France saw plenty of drama and goals. Seventeen minutes into the match and West Germany drew first blood. Ten minutes after saw France equalizing the game.

With the game tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation, France was up 3-1 on extra-time. French forward Patrick Battiston ran towards the goal but failed to see goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on his way. Due to the German’s violent strength, Battiston was knocked unconscious, lost two teeth, suffered three cracked ribs and damaged vertebrae. He was out for half an hour. A controversial decision saw Schumacher getting away with it; he didn’t receive a card or a foul. This resulted with Schumacher being dubbed as a “villain”.


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