As Germany and Argentina gear up for Sunday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup final, we take a look at five of the most iconic finals in history.
1950 – The ‘Maracanazo’
Uruguay stunned hosts Brazil with a 2-1 win in front of over 170,000 people at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
The home team had set the tournament alight – beating Sweden and Spain 7-1 and 6-1 respectively in their final group – and were huge favourites to lift a first World Cup on their own patch.
Brazil looked well on course to do just that when Friaca gave them the lead just after half-time.
However, Juan Alberto Schiaffino levelled in the 66th minute, before Alcides Ghiggia wrote himself into Uruguayan footballing folklore with the winner 11 minutes from time.
The Maracana was almost funereal afterwards, so quiet that Jules Rimet commented: “The silence was morbid, sometimes too difficult to bear.”
A defeat that still rankles with Brazilians to this day, the ‘Maracanazo’ will never be forgotten in South America and throughout the world.
1958 – Teenager Pele lights up the world stage
Eight years on from the ‘Maracanazo’, Brazil travelled to Sweden with a precocious teenager in their ranks.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, was just 17 years old, but his age proved irrelevant as he lit up the grandest stage of all for the first time.
Pele found the net six times in four appearances at the finals, with arguably the most iconic moment of the tournament coming when he scored a sensational goal in Brazil’s 5-2 final victory over hosts Sweden.
After looping the ball over the head of a Swedish defender, Pele volleyed past keeper Kalle Svensson to announce himself as a global superstar.
Sweden started the game brilliantly, going ahead after just four minutes through Nils Liedholm.
However, Vava and Pele were simply too good for the hosts to handle – the latter securing the first of his three World Cup winner’s medals.
1966 – England get the better of their old enemy
The 1966 final between England and West Germany at Wembley had it all, including controversy, great goals and the drama of extra-time.
Helmut Haller silenced the partisan home crowd by breaking the deadlock after just 12 minutes, but Geoff Hurst levelled with the first goal of his hat-trick soon after.
Martin Peters then looked to have won it for England 12 minutes from time, only for Wolfgang Weber to force extra-time with a dramatic late equaliser.
Hurst put the hosts back ahead in controversial fashion 11 minutes into the first additional period, with his shot rattling off the underside of the bar and linesman Tofiq Bahramov signalling for a goal – despite German protestations that the ball had not crossed the line.
Hurst then wrapped up victory with a superb third goal in the last minute of extra-time, a strike best remembered for commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous line: “Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over…it is now.”
1970 – Brazil turn on the style
Brazil’s 1970 vintage is widely considered to be one of the greatest teams ever assembled.
Carlos Alberto, Gerson, Tostao, Rivelino, Jairzinho and, of course, the irrepressible Pele were all part of a formidable line-up.
Brazil found the net 19 times in just six games in Mexico, sweeping all comers aside with a scintillating combination of speed, style and skill.
Pele scored four of those goals to land his third and final World Cup, while Jairzinho made history by becoming the first – and, to date, only – player to score in every round of the tournament.
Brazil’s quality certainly shone through at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City as they comprehensively defeated Italy 4-1 in a one-sided final.
Although Roberto Boninsegna cancelled out Pele’s early opener, Gerson and Jairzinho put Brazil in command before the Selecao’s true crowning glory of the tournament.
Eight Brazilian players were involved in a glorious move before Pele picked up the ball on the edge of the area and laid an inch-perfect pass into the path of the onrushing Carlos Alberto, who hammered it past Enrico Albertosi.
Has a single goal and moment ever summed up any team more perfectly? Probably not.
1998 – France thump under-par Brazil
Despite Zinedine Zidane’s brilliant double in a comprehensive 3-0 win for hosts France, the 1998 World Cup final will be remembered primarily for one reason – the saga surrounding Brazil superstar Ronaldo’s fitness.
Ronaldo had enjoyed a stunning tournament, proving why many considered him to be the planet’s finest player, with his four goals and three assists firing holders Brazil into a sixth World Cup final.
However, the then 21-year-old suffered a convulsive fit on the day of the final in Paris – leading to much speculation as to whether he would play.
Coach Mario Zagallo ultimately started Ronaldo up front, but he was a shadow of his normal self.
Zidane and France ran riot in front of their home fans – the legendary playmaker scoring two headers to put the hosts in control at half-time. Emmanuel Petit then wrapped matters up with a third in the closing stages.
Ronaldo was able to exorcise his demons at the 2002 World Cup final, when he scored twice to lead Brazil to a 2-0 win over Germany in Yokohama.
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