All-time best FIFA World Cup performances

Article: All-Time Best FIFA World Cup Performances

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By Jonathan Lewis | 15th Jun 2022

The FIFA World Cup has been around since 1930 and happens every four years. It has been held constantly throughout this period except during World War Two. Undoubtedly, the FIFA World Cup is the most important football tournament and exceeds in popularity other international football competitions like the UEFA Nations Cup, the Africa Nations Cup, the Asia Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa America. Still, many punters head over to uk betting site lists to wager bets on football games.

National teams that rose to World Cup glory

All football players dream of winning that golden trophy. Down history lane, football fans and spectators have marvelled at the skills and talents of national teams across the globe. Some well-known teams like Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, France and Uruguay. Other less known teams who picked their moment to shine at the World Cup like North Korea, South Korea, the United States of America and Cameroon.

The early editions of the World Cup had been very successful, but the non-participation of specific national teams hindered some due to travel challenges and logistical reasons. For example, the Uruguay team that won the World Cup against Brazil at the famous Brazilian football ground, Maracanã, in 1950, could not make it to the 1954 World Cup.

The national team of Hungary that participated in the 1954 World Cup was one of the country’s greatest teams, and that team is considered the best of all time. Between 1950 and 1956, the Magyars played fifty games, out of which they only lost one game. Unfortunately, the only game they lost was the most important game of all – the final of the 1954 World Cup. The coaching staff of the Hungarian team had introduced the flexible system of 2-3-3-2, which allowed the Hungarian players to be involved in the game as much as possible. Their star players included Ferenc Puskas and Nandor Hidegkuti.

Brazilian football dominates the scene

The Brazilian national teams that participated in the World Cup can all be described excellent teams and producing some of the best footballers the world has ever seen. However, the best of the best was the Brazilian team that took part in the World Cup held in Sweden in 1958. At that time, they introduced and provided the world with the best football ever – Pele. Another inspiring Brazilian team was the one that participated in the 1970 World Cup held in Mexico. In the final, Brazil beat Italy 4-1, with Pele scoring two goals.

As intimated, Hungary had invented the concept of total football. But the national team of the Netherlands in the 1970s exemplified the idea behind the concept. Each Dutch player was expected to fulfil any job on the pitch, making the Dutch team extremely fluid and tactically powerful, blowing their opponents away. With players like Johan Cruyff, Johnny Rep and Johan Neeskens, the Netherlands shot to the final of the World Cup. In the final, they played against West Germany, and unfortunately, they lost 2-1. Although not winning the 1972 World Cup, the Dutch team won the hearts of the world. Their concept of total football was eventually copied by other national teams and teams participating in their respective domestic leagues.

Argentina and the stardom of Diego Armando Maradona

The national team of Argentina that won the 1986 World Cup is considered one of the strongest teams that ever played in the tournament. With their star player, Diego Maradona, and Jorge Valdano and Oscar Ruggeri, Argentina marched to the final, beating South Korea, Bulgaria, Uruguay, England (Maradona scored two spectacular goals), and Belgium. In the final, the Argentinians faced West Germany and won 2-0. Argentina’s performances could be termed a one-man show by the incredible Diego Maradona. His “hand of God” goal against England is in solid gold in the annual World Cup history.

The first European team to win the World Cup

In 2014, Germany managed to win the World Cup in Brazil, thus becoming the first European team to win the tournament in South America.

In all probability, the French team that won the 1998 World Cup held in France can be described as the best World Cup team of the last two decades. The French team beat South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Paraguay, Italy and Croatia. In the final, they faced Brazil, winning the Samba team 3-0 with two goals coming from Zinedine Zidane and another from Emmanuel Petit.

Other teams like Italy, England and Spain have excelled in the World Cup. Everyone will surely have their opinion on which is the greatest and best team. Still, Hungary, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina and France are the five teams that have most excelled and are considered the best performers in the FIFA World Cup.

Best individual performances at the World Cup

At every World Cup, we witnessed outstanding performances by individual footballers. During the twenty editions of the World Cup held so far, many players outshined their colleagues with their skills and talent on the ball.

Justin Fontaine of France banged in thirteen goals in six matches in the World Cup held in Sweden in 1958. Considering that the current top scorer of the World Cup is Miroslav Klose, with sixteen goals in twenty-four games, the feat of Fontane scoring thirteen goals in six games is beyond remarkable.

The Netherlands produced some talented players, but one that stands above all others is Johan Cruyff. Unfortunately, Cruyff featured in one edition of the World Cup held in West Germany in 1974. Although the Dutch failed to beat the Germans in the final, Johan Cruyff lit up the tournament with his skills and performances. The brilliance of the Dutch team was only possible through the technique, intelligence and football vision of Cruyff. At the 1974 World Cup, Cruyff was awarded the Golden Ball award.

The Brazilian Pele burst into the football scene at the World Cup held in Sweden in 1958. He was the youngest player in the history of the World Cup. His subsequent performances with the Brazilian national team made him a hero at home and globally. Considered to be the best footballer ever seen, Pele is synonymous with football.

Diego Maradona is second best only to the great Pele. His impressive dribbling strength on the ball and lethal finishing was beyond reality. Alone, he was capable of turning the mode of the game in favour of Argentina against any opponent.

Other players left their mark at the World Cup include Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Gigi Riva, Garrincha, Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer.

Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer

All-time best FIFA World Cup performances