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In history’s books

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Well, the FIFA World Cup is simple. Thirty-two teams, 64 matches, one winner, and the rest, 31, go back, waiting to test their luck in the next tournament. However, every World Cup has moments that etch their place in World Cup history. For example, German fans will pick Mario Gotze’s injury-time winner or the thrashing of Brazil as their favourite moment. At the same time, few would point out Matt Hummels’s header in the quarter-final as their pick that helped Germany win a closely fought match 1-0. 

It is because moments that win the title cause a massive eruption of emotions or look insane on the football field that stays in the long memory. And after 21 editions, the FIFA World Cup has its fair share of moments. Some are euphoric, some are controversial, and others inspire awe. And it will be no surprise that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will have its moments that will stay etched in the tournament’s history.

So, we look at the top 10 moments of the FIFA World Cup. 

Luis Suarez- Hand of God 2.0 

While Ghana or the entire African continent will not remember this incident fondly, it remains one of the best gambles in the World Cup that paid off. Uruguay faced Ghana in the quarter-final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was a historic moment for Ghana, who would script history if they won the match. No African team had reached the semi-final, and the Black Stars wanted to change that.

The match went all the way to extra time—however, minutes before the end of the game, something shocking hapeened. Ghana launched an attack through a free-kick as the ball was headed towards the goal. It looked like Ghana had one leg in the next round, but Luis Suarez had other ideas. The striker used his hand to save the ball and was then sent off, and Ghana earned a penalty. However, Asamoah Gyan would hit the post, and Uruguay won the resultant penalty shootout to break Ghanaian hearts as Suarez became a part of history.

Paolo Rossi’s redemption at the 1982 FIFA World Cup 

Imagine being implicated in a match-fixing scandal, being banned for two years despite being innocent and then coming back to help your nation to win the World Cup. This was the story of Paolo Rossi at the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Three years before the World Cup, the Serie A was rocked by a match-fixing scandal. 

Named Totonero, the scandal affected major teams and national team players. And despite being innocent, Paolo Rossi was banned for three years, later reduced to two years, ending just before the 1982 World Cup. And Italy started the World Cup with three insipid draws and only qualified for the next round because they scored one goal more than third-place Cameroon.

Their next match came against tournament favourites Brazil. No one gave Italy any chance. Finally, however, Rossi came to form, scoring a hat trick to stun the Samba Boys. He would continue his form, scoring a brace against Poland in the semi-final. And to cap off his tournament, he added a goal in the final to remind people he was still the best. 

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What a save!!!! Gordon Banks 

Gordon Banks is one of the best goalkeepers in football and FIFA World Cup history. The Englishman was in goal when his country won their first and only title to date. And he remained their starting goalkeeper four years later in the 1970 FIFA World Cup. England were drawn into a group with Romania, Czechoslovakia, and then two-time World Champion Brazil. 

And the England-Brazil match lived up to the hype. However, the moment of the game came not through a goal, but a save, and a spectacular one at that. Brazil’s exquisite passing put Jairzinho on the right wing with the ball, who put in a cross at the far post for Pele. The Brazilian headed the ball with extreme pace and was going to goal for all money. But Gordon Banks produced an incredible save that Pele has described as the best he has ever seen. 

Banks rushed from one post to another and parried the ball over the post despite managing to only get a thumb to the ball. It was a save that still baffles everyone and remains the best save made at the tournament.

Uruguay shocks Brazil at Maracana

Imagine a team being favoured so much in the final that a newspaper announces them as champions before the final and even the President of FIFA prepares a speech in Portuguese, the most spoken tongue of the nation. In the 1950 FIFA World Cup, the final four teams were put in a round-robin format, with the teams with the most points winning the World Cup. And the final match was between Brazil and Uruguay, with the former only needing a draw while the latter required a win to win the World Cup. 

Everyone had dubbed Brazil the favourites, and the President of FIFA, Jules Rimet, had prepared his speech in Portuguese, Brazil’s most spoken language. However, Uruguay would make a comeback after falling 1-0 behind and scoring two goals to silence the 2,00,000 fans into stunned silence. Many people refused to believe that Brazil had lost, and the pain remains even after five World Cup titles.

The Miracle of Bern 

The match that led to the birth of a footballing powerhouse, When Germany arrived in Switzerland for the 1954 FIFA World Cup, few gave them any chance of making any mark in the tournament. They finished second in the group after defeating Turkey and South Korea but lost to tournament favourites Hungary 8-3. After that, they would beat Yugoslavia and Austria to reach the final, but Hungary was waiting for them.

The top dogs were the East European led by the brilliant Ferenc Puskas. Nicknamed the ‘Mighty Magyars,’ the team were unbeaten for 31 matches. And they looked to be on the rope in the final as Hungary scored two goals within eight minutes. However, under the leadership of Fritz Walter, the Germans started the counter fight. 

Maximilian Morlock scored the first goal before star striker Helmut Rahn added another to put the match in the balance. For the next 66 minutes, both teams went back and forth as they looked for the winning goal. And in the 84th minute, Rahn scored the one for Germany to put an entire country on their feet. West Germany won their first World Cup, which was a significant boost of confidence for a nation devastated by World War 2 less than a decade back. 

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Andres Iniesta’s goal brings Spain their glory

Winning three consecutive international trophies is a record that is incredible in itself. And this is what made 2010 World Cup Spain one of the best sides ever to play football. Before this tournament, their best performance came in 1950 when they reached the semi-final. And even if Spain had the best team on paper in South Africa, their history of underperforming inspired little confidence. 

These fears were made strong when they lost their opening match to Switzerland. However, the team came back strongly to win their remaining game. Spain would win all their knockout matches 1-0 as the brilliant Iker Casillas kept four clean sheets. However, the most famous moments for them came in the final. The game was cagey, with the score 0-0 till the 116 minutes. However, Spain, with an extra man on the pitch after John Heitinga’s red card, started a move that ended with Andres Iniesta scoring past Maarten Stekelenburg. Iniesta’s picture of taking out his shirt and running towards the touchline is one of the most iconic moments of the World Cup.

Carlos Alberto Torres’s goal shows Brazil’s dominance 

The 1970 FIFA World Cup team is considered by many to be the best team in the tournament’s history. They were a class or two above the rest teams and showed dazzling brilliance. After winning back-to-back World Cups, Brazil underperformed in the 1966 World Cup. However, they had a star-studded squad when they came to the next World Cup. The team had Clodoaldo, Gerson, Jairzinho, Rivellino, Tostao, and Pele, a lineup that could shred any opposition to shreds. 

The team brushed aside every team to reach the final, where they faced Italy. Both teams were two-time World Champions, and the winner would permanently get the Jules Rimet trophy. And in one of the most one-sided finals in the World Cup, Brazil triumphed 4-1, but it was the goal by Brazil’s captain Carlos Alberto Torres that demonstrated their superiority. The move was started by Clodoaldo, who dribbled past four players to start a move on the left wing, which ended with Torres putting the ball past Enrico Alberto. The Italians were left chasing shadows during the entire phase before the goal as Brazil won their third World Cup title. 

Germany 7-1 Brazil, the ghost of 1950 returns

“They are all gonna score at this rate.” said the commentator. When Brazil hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup, their main aim was to win it to bury the ghost of the 1950 World Cup loss. However, what happened would leave Brazil with a new scar. When Brazil faced Germany in the semi-final, they were without their star Neymar who was injured in the quarter-final against Colombia and captain Thiago Silva who was serving a suspension.

On the other hand, Germany had one of the best teams in their history. However, no one could have predicted the outcome of the match. The Germans ran riot as they scored the first goal in the 11th minute, the second in the 23rd, the third in the 24th minute, the fourth in 26th, and the fifth, in 28 minutes. Scoring five goals inside 30 minutes in a World Cup semi-final against one of the best teams had never happened. Even Germany couldn’t believe how dominant they were. The Germans added two more in the second half before Brazil pulled one back late in the match.

Brazil would face another pain after 1950 as Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in the final to win their fourth FIFA World Cup title. 

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Pele scores a brace in the 1958 FIFA World Cup final 

With good reason, Pele is among the best players in FIFA World Cup history.The Brazilian is the only player to win three World Cups and is among the top goal-scorers in football history. However, it was at the 1958 FIFA World Cup that the teenage Sebastian announced himself to the world. Pele scored four goals before the final, including a hat trick against France in the semi-final. But Brazil still remembered the wounds of the 1950 World Cup.

Their fears were further heightened after Sweden scored the first goal in the final, and Brazil got their act together to get a 2-1 lead. And it was then Pele showed his class to put Brazil in the front seat by scoring two goals. However, his first goal is one of the best goals ever in a World Cup final. After Nilton Santos S cross found Pele, the 17-year-old twisted his way past a defender and lifted the ball over the second defender before blasting the ball past Kalle Svensson in Sweden’s goal. 

Diego Maradona’s historic five minutes 

When Argentina arrived in Mexico for the 1986 FIFA World Cup, they had the best player in the world in their ranks. Diego Maradona was the golden boy of football then, and Argentina counted on him to deliver. And deliver he did. Maradona scored five goals to take his team to the final single-handedly. However, his best and most remembered performance came against England in the quarter-final. The first happened in the 51st minute after Steve Hodge’s miscued clearance sent the ball high up in the air before Maradona would leap up and use his hand to put the ball past a hapless Peter Shilton in what is now called the ‘Hand of God’.

Four minutes later, he would score one of the best goals in the World Cup, dribbling his way past several English players across half of the field to score. Then, he would score another brace against Belgium as Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 in the final to win their second title.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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