10 Greatest World Cup Games of All Time

World Cup Top 10 Games Of All Time

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup starting soon, we will no doubt see some memories made in the 64 games to be played in this first-ever World Cup held on Arab soil.

Most of the greatest World Cup games of all-time involved teams from the UEFA (Europe) and the CONMEBOL (South America) confederations, although one did involve a CONCACAF (North America) team in México.

The best World Cup games also had plenty of drama, controversy, late goals, and famous names like Pelé (Brazil), Diego Maradona (Argentina), Zinedine Zidane (France), Thomas Müller (Germany), Carlos Tevez (Argentina), Gheroge Hagi (Romania), and Thierry Henry (France).

There have been 21 FIFA World Cups held heading into Qatar next Monday and 12 UEFA and 9 CONMEBOL teams have won the trophy with zero coming from the AFC (Asia), OFC (Oceania), CAF (Africa), or CONCACAF (North America). Good luck longshots.

The winners of the FIFA World Cup over the last four tournaments have all come from Europe (UEFA): Italy (2006), Spain (2010), Germany (2014), and France (2018).

Brazil has taken home the most FIFA World Cups (5) and A Seleção are the odds-on favorite at the top FIFA World Cup betting sites to win this year’s tournament. Brazil, the only team to participate in all 21 of the FIFA World Cups, was involved in four of our 10 Greatest World Cup Games of All-Time listed below.

Fellow South Americans Argentina (+850 to win the 2022 FiFA World Cup) and Lionel Messi were involved in three of these classic games with Karim Benzema and defending champions France also being involved in three of these 10 greatest World Cup games of all-time.

10. 1958 FIFA World Cup Semifinals: Brazil vs France

After becoming the youngest player in FIFA World Cup history to score a goal at age 17 and 239 days against Wales in his World Cup debut as he notched the game-winner in the Quarterfinal, Brazil’s Pelé scored a Hat Trick against France in the memorable Semifinal.

Pelé scored a natural (three in a row) Hat Trick for Brazil. He tallied them at the 52”, 64”, and 75” minute marks of the 2nd Half to take a 2-1 Brazil lead to a 5-1 lead in 23 of the most brilliant minutes in World Cup history.

And, he did this at age 17. What were you doing at 17? Not playing in the World Cup, I guess.

Pelé would go on to score twice in the 1958 FIFA World Cup Final against Sweden as Brazil (+375 to win 2022 World Cup, BetOnline) won the first of its now 5 World Cups. It was a game that saw a WC Final record 7 goals scored (BRA 5 SWE 2) in front of 50,00 fans at Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm.

The six goals by the teenager that led Brazil to its first-ever World Cup helped put Pelé and A Seleção on the worldwide soccer map and the beautiful game has never been the same since.

9. 1994 World Cup Second Round: Argentina vs Romania

In the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Romania shocked the world and topped its group, but also lost to Switzerland 4-1 in the Group Stage. But in the second round, Romania pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, eliminating heavy favorites Argentina in a class Round of 16 match.

Eastern Europe’s Romania was led by Gheroge Hagi and Ilie Dumitrescu (2 goals) and the Tricolorii topped Gabriel Bautista and Abel Balbo and Argentina, 3-2 but were eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Sweden.

8. 2010 World Cup Round of 16: Argentina vs México

Lionel Messi and Argentina beat México in a classic Round of 16 match from Soccer City in Johannesburg that possibly changed the game in terms of VAR ultimately being a thing. A goal allowed to Carlos Tevez was shown to be offside.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter apologized to El Tri, and he made a promise to reopen talks about using devices to monitor goals in games for Offsides and Goals. Tevez tallied twice for Argentina while Javier “Chicharito” Hérnandez had the lone goal for México in the loss in South Africa.

Blatter’s phone calls to Mexico and England (also wronged) came only four months after FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke had said that discussions on Goal-Line technology and the use of any Video Replays was over. Not so fast, Jérôme.

7. 2014 FIFA World Cup Semifinals: Brazil vs Germany

This game from July 8, 2014 at Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte makes the Greatest World Cup Games of All-Time list because of its lopsidedness. This shocker ended with Germany winning 7-1 in what still is the largest margin of victory in FIFA World Cup Semifinals history.

The Miracle of Belo Horizonte saw Germany qualify for the World Cup Finals for an 8th time and saw eventual World Cup winners Germany race out to a 7-0 lead as Thomas Müller, Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos (2 goals), Sammy Khedira, and André Schürrle (2-0) scored for the winners.

Oscar got Brazil on the board with a goal at the 90-minute mark. Germany would beat Argentina, 1-0 in Added Extra Time (AET) in the final on a goal by Mario Götze at the 113-minute mark.

6. 1954 FIFA World Cup Final: Hungary vs West Germany

The 1954 FIFA World Cup saw Hungary head into the tournament as the best team in the world and it looked unstoppable after pounding South Korea (9-0) and West Germany (8-3) in the two Group Stage games.

In the Quarterfinals, Hungary rolled by 4 goals over Brazil and 4 more past Uruguay in the Semifinals to head into the 1954 World Cup Final on a 31-game unbeaten streak.

Facing West Germany—a team it had beaten by 5 goals in Group Stage play—after being tied 2-2 at Halftime, Hungary lost 3-2 on a goal by Helmut Rahn with 6 minutes to go in the game. Hungarian star Ferenc Puskas was completely gassed in one of the most classic World Cup games.

5. 1994 FIFA World Cup Final: Brazil vs Italy

The 1994 FIFA World Cup Final between CONMEBOL powers Brazil and UEFA heavies Italy has been the only scoreless 0-0 Draw in a Final in the history of the World Cup. So how can a game with no goal crack a list of the Top 10 Greatest World Cup Games of All-Time?

It was the second time in World Cup history that the same two teams met in the Finals. Brazil beat Italy in the 1970 Final. And being played at 12:30 pm at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, it was the last World Cup game to have actually been played in broad daylight.

Brazil ended up winning in a dramatic Penalty Kick Shootout, 3-2, with Silver Ball winner Roberto Baggio missing the decisive PK for Gli Azzurri. The World Cup win was the 4th for Brazil who surpassed Germany for the most titles. And, it all came in a game that had no scoring in regulation time.

4. 2006 FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal: Brazil vs France

The 2006 FIFA World Cup saw Zinedine Zidane and France face Brazil in the Quarterfinals in a glorious game which saw Brazil only muster one Shot on Goal and Zizou’s dribbling and passing essentially won the game for Les Bleus.

Man of the Match Zidane’s free kick to teammate Thierry Henry ended up being the match-winning goal. Then France beat Portugal 1-0 in the Semifinals on a Zidane goal but Les Bleus were beaten by Italy in the 2016 Final in another of the best World Cup games.

That one also needed Extra Time after ending 1-1 in Regulation with Italian GK Gianluigi Buffon tipping a Zidane header over the bar in ET to preserve the tie. Italy won 5-3 on PKs and won the World Cup for Italy in Germany. Zidane was named the Best Player in the Tournament.

3. 1996 FIFA World Cup Final: England vs West Germany

The Three Lions most famous win in this prestigious tournament came in the 2006 FIFA World Cup against West Germany on sacred home soil in front of 97,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London.
Helmut Haller gave Germany an early 1-0 lead but Geoff Hurst tied it up for England 1-1 at the 18-minute mark. With just 12 minutes to go, it looked as if Martin Peters had won the game for the Three Lions but Wolfgang Weber promptly tied this classic game up at 2-2 for West Germany.
England got another goal from Hurst in Extra Time, but the Germans disagreed that the ball crossed the goal line. But the Russian Lineman said the goal was good, and Hurst added another for a Hat Trick, setting up that famous photo of Bobby Moore lifting the World Cup Trophy.

2. 1986 World Cup Quarterfinals: Argentina vs England

Argentina defeated England, 2-1 in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals in one of the Greatest World Cup Games of All-Time.

This match featured Diego Maradona scoring two of the most memorable goals in World Cup and Soccer history in a 5-minute span in the iconic World Cup affair in México City.

Maradona’s first goal was dubbed the ’Hand of God’ goal and it gave Argentina a 1-0 lead over England at Azteca at the 51-minute mark. But it was his memorable 11-touch goal 5 minutes later that many consider The Goal Of The Century. Three Lions would score, but were eliminated 2-1.

Argentina would go on to win the 1986 FIFA World Cup, with Argentina beating Belgium in the Semifinals (2-0). Maradona scored both goals for La Albiceleste against the Red Devils and then went on to top West Germany in the 1986 World Cup Final (3-2).

1. 1970 World Cup Semifinal: Italy vs West Germany

Widely recognized as the greatest game in the history of the FIFA World Cup, the 1970 Semifinal between Italy and West Germany at historic Azteca Stadium in Mexico City which has been dubbed by many Soccer fans as The Game of the Century.

This game saw an entertaining 7 goals with so much of the action happening really late. Italy took an early 1-0 lead 10 minutes in on a goal by Roberto Boninsegna but it took Germany 80 minutes to get the equalizer as Karl-Heinz Schnellinger made it 1-1 in the 90th minute.

Strap in.

In Extra Time, Germany had no substitutes so Franz Beckenbauer had to play with a dislocated shoulder and Gerd Muller gave Germany a 2-1 lead before Tarcisio Burgnich tied it 2-2 a few minutes after. Six minutes later, Gigi Riva gave Italy a 3-2 lead and it looked like the pizza was cooked.

Nope, Muller answered for the Germans in the 110th minute to make it 3-3 and what once was a game with just 1 goal at the 90-minute mark suddenly had 6 goals but still no winner. A minute later, Gianni Rivera side-footed home the game-winner and Gli Azzurri ended up winning, 4-3.


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Rick Rockwell
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Rick has been a professional writer for over 14 years with an extensive resume spanning projects and clients from around the world. But, his passions have always been sports and sports betting. Whether it’s being a credentialed media member to major sporting events, climbing into a racecar or a pro wrestling ring, Rick’s sports and sports betting knowledge, passion and versatility is on display with each article he writes for TSG.

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