Final: Uruguay 4 – 2 Argentina
1954 World Cup: Host Nation Switzerland
Urugauy had won the 1950 World Cup and were defending champions. In the meantime,The tournament was also famous as Japan, West and East Germany were allowed to enter the qualification process for the first time since the Second World War. Only West Germany qualified for the finals with a team made up of amateur footballers. The tournament was famous for breaking goalscoring records and with that came records at the other end of the pitch with the nets constantly bulging.
With a team of amateur players, the West German team made it to the final having been beaten by Hungary 8 – 3 during the group stages. 16 teams qualified and four groups of four teams played each other to reach the knockout stages. Hungary was the hotly tipped favourites and rightly so as they broke records for the most goals scored in a World Cup with 27. 60,000 spectators gathered at the Wankdorf Stadium to see West Germany play Hungary. Two goals down after eight minutes the West German team remarkably won the match 3 – 2.
Final: West Germany 3 – 2 Hungary
1966 World Cup: Host Nation England
Probably the only time a World Cup will go missing before the tournament starts. It was also the first time the World Cup featured a mascot as a lion, ‘World Cup Willie’. Compared to the 1954 World Cup there were far fewer goals in this one. Sixteen teams qualified and were split into four groups of four teams to play across 8 stadiums. Sadly 31 African teams boycotted this World Cup as the African Nations did not believe they were given a fair number of guaranteed places in the finals. North Korea and Portugal qualified for the first time with North Korea going on to famously beat Italy 1 – 0 at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough. They met Portugal in the quarter-finals and were winning 3 – 0. It was Portugal who England beat in the semi-finals 2 – 1 and they ended the tournament in third place. England met West Germany in the final in a game that was tied 2 – 2 at full-time, only for Hurst to score twice in extra-time to give England their one and only World Cup triumph.
Final: England 4 – 2 Germany (aet)
1970 World Cup: Host Nation Mexico
A World Cup that was the first to be held in a North American country, it had many games kicking off in the heat of the 30C plus midday sun and some venues that were at high altitude. The story of this World Cup reverberates around one team that has been considered as the greatest ever national footballing team of all time. T
Along the road to victory Brazil beat the defending champions England 1 – 0 in a game. Brazil went on to beat the South American champions Uruguay 3 - 1 in the semi-finals and the European Champions Italy in the final.
Final: Brazil 4 – 1 Italy
1986 World Cup: Host Nation Mexico
Mexico became the first nation to host the World Cup for a second time and once again the players would have to deal with the extreme heat and altitude. It was at this tournament the Mexican Wave became famous in 11 different venues with 24 teams divided into six groups of four. However, in the quarter finals against England there was controversy and a moment of magic.
Final: Argentina 3 – 2 West Germany
1998 World Cup: Host Nation France
This was the second time France was to host the World Cup and the home following proved to be advantageous in the quest to win for the first time. It was the longest ever World Cup tournament spanning 32 days as the number of qualified teams rose to 32 in eight groups of four teams. France easily won their group and beat Paraguay in the second round. They had to overcome a typically stubborn Italy on penalties in the quarter-finals and Croatia in the semi-finals.
Final: France 3 – 0 Brazil
2006 World Cup: Host Nation Germany
One of the most watched sporting events ever, the 2006 World Cup saw plenty of goals during the group stages but they were hard to come by during the knockout phases. There was a record number of yellow and red cards handed out during the tournament with 345 and 28 respectively. In one game known as the ‘Battle of Nuremberg’ 16 yellows and four reds were dished out between Portugal and Netherlands.
Italy conceded only one goal throughout the whole tournament on their way to reaching the final. A tough semi-final against the Germans who had home advantage ended 0 – 0 at full time, but two goals in extra time set up a final against France. A tight final needed penalties to decide the winner with the score at 1 – 1 after extra time where Italy kept their composure and won.
Final: Italy 1 – 1 Germany (5 – 3 penalties)
2010 World Cup: Host Nation South Africa
For the first time in the history of the World Cup an African Nation staged the event using 10 stadia, with the final played at Soccer City in Johannesburg. It was a tournament that saw a European team win the World Cup for the first time outside of Europe and also the first time the eventual winners had lost a match during the group stage. Another first saw New Zealand remain unbeaten during the group stage drawing all three of their games only to be eliminated and not make the round of 16. Spain lost to Switzerland in the group stages but went on to win their group. Then they won each knockout stage game 1 – 0 beating Portugal, Paraguay and Germany to reach the final. Playing Netherlands, it required extra-time for Spain to claim victory and become the football World Cup champions for the first time.
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