With the 2018 Soccer World Cup kicking off on June 14, a look at all the past tournaments dating back to the inaugural event in 1930.
Football’s showpiece returned to Brazil but the host nation suffered one of the greatest humiliations in its illustrious World Cup history as they were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals.
The team’s new star Neymar was missing after being injured in their quarter-final win over Colombia, but nothing could erase the embarrassment of that day in Belo Horizonte which was Brazil’s worst defeat in 100 years of competitive football.
In the final, Germany met Lionel Messi’s Argentina in Rio de Janeiro. The Argentines had overcome the Netherlands on penalties in the last four. A tense, closely-matched final was decided by Mario Goetze’s goal in extra time as the Germans became world champions for the fourth time.
South Africa 2010
The first finals on African soil were full of colour and noise – the drone of vuvuzelas was the soundtrack of the tournament – but the football often failed to match up to the backdrop.
Six African nations took part but only Ghana survived the group stages, going on to the quarter-finals where they lost to Uruguay on penalties. South Africa started brightly but became the first hosts to be eliminated in the first round.
Spain, and their talented generation that had won the 2008 European crown, won the World Cup for the first time thanks to an extra-time goal from Andres Iniesta in the final against the Netherlands.
It was Spain’s fourth successive 1-0 win after beating Portugal, Paraguay and Germany by the same score en route to the final.
The World Cup finals returned to Germany after a 32-year absence and were widely acclaimed as a triumph for the host nation, sparking a huge upsurge in national pride.
The final though was scarred by a Zinedine Zidane headbutt.
The tournament heralded a return to prominence for the European super-powers, with all four semi-finalists hailing from Europe for the first time since 1982 after Brazil and Argentina went out in the quarter-finals.
Argentina captured the imagination with a peerless 6-0 thrashing of Serbia and Montenegro in the group phase but they were sent packing after a penalty shootout defeat to the hosts.
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil, meanwhile, fell to a resurgent France.
Germany’s crowd-pleasing run came to an end in a 2-0 semi-final defeat to Italy, while a Zidane penalty allowed a much-maligned France to overcome Portugal.
Marcello Lippi’s Italy won the final – their fourth success – on penalties, with left-back Fabio Grosso sweeping home the decisive spot-kick after the game ended 1-1.
The abiding image of the final, however, was Zidane’s scarcely believable headbutt on Italy goalscorer Marco Materazzi and a red card in his last ever match.
Japan and South Korea 2002
The 2002 finals were the first ever to be staged outside Europe or the Americas and the first in Asia as South Korea and Japan co-hosted.
The build-up was dominated by fears over security following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, and anti-aircraft missile batteries were deployed around the new stadia.
In the event, the tournament passed off peacefully and the only shocks were on the field.
Upsets were to prove the hallmark of the tournament from the outset, when World Cup debutants Senegal beat holders France with a 1-0 win in the opening match in Seoul.
France’s demise was one of the most striking surprises of the finals. They failed to score a goal and managed only a draw and two defeats to crash out miserably in the first round, the worst performance by any defending champion.
But the most notable outsiders were hosts South Korea, who recorded wins over Portugal, Italy and Spain before bowing out in the last four to Germany.
Two of the World Cup’s greatest powers – Brazil and Germany – met in the final in Yokohama.
Ronaldo, fit again after his 1998 nightmare, scored both goals as Brazil clinched a record fifth crown.
The 1998 finals were increased to 32 teams and host nation France lifted the trophy, Aime Jacquet’s side gathered unstoppable momentum as the tournament progressed before defeating Brazil 3-0 in a one-sided final at the gleaming new 80 000-seat Stade de France.
The star of the show was Zinedine Zidane, who bounced back from the shame of a red card against Saudi Arabia early in the competition to score two goals in the final.
Brazil’s campaign ended in mysterious circumstances, with star player Ronaldo excluded from the team-sheet for the final.
Minutes before kick-off however, Ronaldo was back in. It later emerged the player had had a fit in his hotel room a few hours before the final, leading many to question why he had been allowed to play.
United States 1994
Despite the USA’s lack of football pedigree, massive crowds greeted the 1994 finals and Brazil claimed their record fourth World Cup title.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira married discipline with the abundant Brazilian flair, and in Romario had the deadliest striker in the tournament.
Diego Maradona and Andres Escobar grabbed the early headlines. Maradona scored an outstanding goal against Greece, memorably screaming into a TV camera in celebration, before failing a dope test and being slung out of the tournament. Escobar scored an own goal for Colombia against the USA and was later shot dead in his homeland.
Roberto Baggio proved Italy’s hero as they marched to the final, saving their skin against impressive Nigeria in the second round and grabbing the winner in the quarter-finals against Spain. Two more goals saw off a surprising Bulgaria in the semis, but the cruellest of twists awaited him in the final.
Brazil cruised through until a thrilling 3-2 quarter-final win over the Netherlands put them into a semi-final clash with surprise package Sweden, where Romario’s expert finish nicked victory.
The disappointing final was the first decided by a shootout, and Baggio blasted over the bar to hand Brazil victory.
The 1990 World Cup witnessed the lowest goals-per-game average, a deluge of sendings-off and arguably the worst final ever seen. Just 115 goals were scored in 52 games at an average of 2.21 per game. There were 16 red cards and 164 bookings at an average of 3.46 per match, another record. In addition penalty shootouts were routine – four in total – including both semi-finals. Argentina advanced at the expense of Italy and West Germany beat England.
Appropriately it was a penalty, by Andreas Brehme for the Germans, that decided a sorry final which included two sendings off for the Argentines. It was West Germany’s third World Cup win.
Argentina’s performance was typical of the tournament. They reached the final despite winning only two games and scoring five goals in total. Maradona finished the final in tears.
Cameroon, inspired by the veteran Roger Milla, reached the quarter-finals, while the unheralded Toto Schillaci hit six goals for Italy to finish top scorer.
As in 1970, the players had to endure searing heat and thin air – and midday kick-offs, thanks to television schedules.
The match of the tournament took place in the quarter-finals, when Zico’s Brazil faced Michel Platini-inspired France, who had already knocked out holders Italy, in Guadalajara. A flowing match finished 1-1 before France won the penalty shootout 4-3.
Diego Maradona established himself as the star of the tournament. The Argentine’s infamous ‚Hand of God‘ goal, when he punched the ball into the net, and a spectacular solo effort put paid to England in the last eight and he produced more magic to see off Belgium in the semi-finals.
West Germany beat France in the semi-finals, just as they had four years earlier, but in the final they were quickly 2-0 down to Argentina, Jose Luis Brown and Jorge Valdano scoring. Somehow the Germans recovered. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller netted in the closing stages to force extra-time, only for Maradona, inevitably, to send Jorge Burruchaga through for the winner. Not since Pele in 1970 had one man so inspired a team to glory.
The number of entrants increased to 24 and two round-robin stages were used to determine the semi-finalists.
Brazil, with Zico, Eder and Socrates in full flow, caught the eye in the early stages, while Italy limped into the second round with three highly uninspiring draws. Suddenly the Italians – and recalled striker Paolo Rossi – sparked to life, beating Brazil 3-2 to reach the semi-finals, where they defeated Poland 2-0.
West Germany edged past hosts Spain and England into the semi-finals, where they faced France in a contest that left a bitter taste. The match, which finished 3-3 after extra-time, was marred by a diabolical challenge from West Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battiston. Incredibly Schumacher stayed on the pitch, and proceeded to make the saves that earned his side a 5-4 win in the penalty shootout.
Rossi’s predatory skills were too much for West Germany in the final, however. He opened the scoring in the second half, and the Italians won 3-1, matching Brazil’s achievement of winning three World Cups.
Despite a threatened boycott by several nations in protest at the Videla military regime, all the qualifiers assembled in Argentina. The same format as 1974 was adopted – two group phases and no knockout stages – and controversy surrounded Argentina’s passage into the final.
The Argentines, for whom the long-haired Mario Kempes was a revelation up front, romped to a 6-0 win over Peru in their final match of the second phase to oust Brazil on goal difference, prompting cries of fix from their South American rivals.
Holders West Germany failed to beat the Netherlands or Italy and were eliminated after a 3-2 loss to Austria. The Dutch thrashed the Austrians 5-1 to reach the final again, but they were without their master Johan Cruyff, who had stayed at home.
Once again the Dutch were beaten, to the delight of the 77 260 crowd in Buenos Aires. Argentina took the lead through Kempes after 37 minutes before substitute Dirk Nanninga equalised late on. In extra time Kempes restored Argentina’s lead and Daniel Bertoni made it 3-1, leaving captain Daniel Passarella to lift Argentina’s first World Cup.
West Germany 1974
The 1974 World Cup in West Germany saw a new format, with the quarters and semi-finals scrapped in favour of two group phases. It also saw the birth of „total football“ – the Netherlands of the brilliant Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer’s West Germany were the leading exponents of the new art which involved players switching positions at will to open up defences.
The highlight of the first round came when East Germany shocked West Germany 1-0 in Hamburg, Jurgen Sparwasser scoring the goal. The result meant the hosts avoided the Netherlands and Brazil in the next round.
The Dutch were a delight as they romped into the second stage, and victories over East Germany, Argentina and Brazil secured them a place in the final. There they faced West Germany, who had seen off an impressive Poland in the other group, and barely a minute from the start the Dutch went ahead when Cruyff won a penalty, scored by Johan Neeskens. However, Paul Breitner equalised after 25 minutes and just before half-time Gerd Muller scored the clincher.
Fears that Mexico’s high altitude and stifling heat would hinder attractive play were totally unfounded as the tournament produced a feast of attacking football.
Brazil, with Pele back at his best, were magnificent. They beat holders England 1-0 in the group stage, despite Gordon Banks‘ now legendary save from Pele, and roared into the knockout stages with Jairzinho on fire.
With the imperious Franz Beckenbauer and the deadly Gerd Muller in their ranks, West Germany gained revenge for their defeat in the 1966 final by recovering from 2-0 down to England to win 3-2 after extra time in the last eight. Their semi-final match with Italy was just as dramatic, the Italians eventually coming through 4-3 in extra-time after another seesaw encounter. Brazil marched past Peru in the quarter-finals and then saw off Uruguay 3-1 in the semis.
Italy never stood a chance in the final as the South Americans gave what is probably their most celebrated exhibition of „the beautiful game“. Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho and, gloriously, Carlos Alberto, scored in a 4-1 rout of the Italians. Brazil were allowed to keep the Jules Rimet trophy having won it three times.
Football returned to the country that gave the world the game 103 years earlier – England.
The England team under the tactically astute Alf Ramsey advanced in solid if unspectacular style to the semi-finals, where they faced a Eusebio-inspired Portugal who had eliminated an ageing Brazilian side with a 3-1 victory in the group stage.
Two brilliant efforts by Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton put paid to the Portuguese 2-1 at Wembley.
West Germany, coaxed by new find Franz Beckenbauer, defeated the Soviet Union at Goodison Park to take their place at the home of football for the final.
Helmut Haller put the Germans ahead but Geoff Hurst equalised before half-time. Martin Peters looked to have clinched the cup for the hosts until Wolfgang Weber snatched a dramatic late equaliser to force extra time in a final for only the second time in history.
Hurst scored twice in the additional period to become the only player to score a World Cup final hat-trick. His second goal was highly controversial, bouncing down off the crossbar and, according to the linesman, over the line.
But the tournament top scorer remained Eusabio with nine goals, including four to rescue Portugal against North Korea after they had trailed 3-0 in the quarter-finals.
Earlier North Korea produced the shock of the tournament, beating Italy 1-0 in the group stage.
Foul play blighted a tournament which saw European teams adopt the defensive „catenaccio“ style of play popularised at the time by Inter Milan. It led to a series of bad-tempered ties that overshadowed the finals and deprived the World Cup of Pele who hobbled out of the tournament in only Brazil’s second match.
The tie between Chile and Italy became known as the Battle of Santiago, with two Italians sent off and police storming the pitch to restore order.
Even without Pele, Brazil were too much for England in the quarter-finals and dominated Chile in the semi-finals with Garrincha scoring twice before getting himself sent off.
In the final, Brazil faced Czechoslovakia, who had reached that stage largely on the back of outstanding performances by their goalkeeper Jilhelm Schroiff.
Ironically it was Schroiff’s blunders in the final that helped Brazil to a 3-1 victory and their second successive trophy. Vava became the first player to score in consecutive finals. Brazil created a World Cup record by using only 12 players throughout the whole tournament.
Brazil introduced two new players to the World Cup – a bandy-legged little winger called Manuel Francisco dos Santos, known as Garrincha, and a 17-year-old called Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or more simply, Pele.
Nothing could stand in Brazil’s way. Wales, who along with Northern Ireland made a significant impact in this tournament, did well to limit them to a 1-0 quarter-final win.
France, another revelation, boasted a star striker of their own in Just Fontaine, who was to set an astonishing World Cup scoring record of 13 goals in a single tournament, but they were swept aside 6-3 in the semi-finals as Pele fired in a hat-trick.
Hosts Sweden rode the support of the home fans into the final by beating holders West Germany in the last four. But in the final they were undone by the boys from Brazil, Pele and Vava grabbing two each in a 5-2 win.
At the end of the match, the Swedish crowd gave Pele and the Brazilians a standing ovation.
West Germany returned to the international fold nearly a decade after the end of World War II while Ferenc Puskas-inspired Hungary, who had handed England a historic 6-3 defeat at Wembley prior to the finals, were installed as favourites.
The 1950 group format was abandoned, with a return to the group system followed by knockout quarter- and semi-finals.
The ‚Magic Magyars‘ demolished West Germany 8-3 in the opening round, adding to a 9-0 hammering of South Korea.
In the quarter-finals they beat Brazil 4-2 in an ugly tie marked by three red cards.
In the final they faced West Germany again and were soon 2-0 ahead through Puskas and Zoltan Czibor. But the Germans were level within ten minutes and claimed a shock winner five minutes from the end when Helmut Rahn scored his second goal to clinch their first World Cup triumph.
Many Hungarians blamed the brilliant Puskas for the defeat. He insisted on playing despite being unfit, having been injured in the group game against the Germans.
After an enforced break of 12 years, the World Cup resumed in South America – left relatively unscathed by the World War II.
Brazil had prepared the magnificent 200,000-capacity Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for the event, while England made their first World Cup appearance.
It wasn’t a success. Humiliation came in the form of an early exit after a shock 1-0 defeat by the United States.
Teams were divided into four groups and the group winners went through to a final pool, with the pool winner taking the title without playing a final.
Disaster struck Brazil.
The host nation had thrashed Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1 in early matches but stumbled in the decider – a match they needed only to draw against Uruguay to win the title.
Before a world record crowd at the Maracana, Albino Cardosa Friaca put Brazil ahead two minutes after half-time, but goals by tournament top scorer Juan Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia maintained Uruguay’s unbeaten record and crowned them world champions for the second time.
With the world on the brink of conflict, France hosted the 1938 World Cup marked by the absence of Austria, under German occupation, and Spain, preoccupied with civil war. England were in conflict with FIFA, and South America, peeved at not being chosen as host after Italy 1934, sent only one representative, Brazil.
Asia was represented for the first time, by Indonesia, playing as the Dutch East Indies, though were quickly on their way home after losing 6-0 to Hungary in the first round.
Having edged Brazil 2-1 in the semis, Italy lifted the trophy for the second tournament in succession, defeating Hungary 4-2 in the final at Colombes, just outside Paris.
In the semis the Hungarians demolished Sweden 5-1, despite conceding a goal after only 30 seconds.
Sixteen teams – 12 from Europe, three South Americans (though not the holders Uruguay) and one from Africa, Egypt – lined up for the finals, which were this time conducted purely on a knockout basis.
Host nation Italy, under the approving gaze of Mussolini, beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final after extra-time.
The Czechs silenced the partisan 50 000 crowd when Antonin Puc scored with just 20 minutes of the match remaining.
They almost added a second when the ball struck a post before Argentine-born Raimundo Orsi scored a late equaliser for Italy.
Italy clinched their first World Cup title when Angelo Schiavio scored the winner in extra time.
Brazil and Argentina, multiple World Cup winners of the future, were both beaten in the first round, meaning they had travelled almost 10,000 miles for just one game.
Just 13 teams took part in the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay, nine from the Americas and four from Europe.
France, Belgium, Romania and Yugoslavia made the two-week Atlantic Ocean odyssey to join the other teams in four groups with the winners contesting the semi-finals.
Yugoslavia did the best of the Europeans nations by reaching the last four where they were beaten 6-1 by Uruguay. In the other semi-final Argentina overwhelmed the United States by an identical scoreline.
Uruguay, backed by a huge home crowd in the Centenario Stadium, beat the Argentines 4-2 in the final after being 2-1 down at half-time.
A public holiday was declared in Uruguay. In Buenos Aires hostile fans attacked the Uruguayan embassy.