The World Cup is the greatest tournament in international soccer. A chance for a team to write their names in history, forever immortalised.
A good team will shine in any arena, but great teams are built for the gravitas of the World Cup stage. Even people who don’t usually enjoy watching soccer will tune in to the World Cup spectacle.
The most obvious way to achieve long-lasting recognition is to win the tournament, although there are other ways you can become a legend in the game of soccer.
Some teams and players have been remembered without even lifting the gold trophy. Here are the eight greatest teams in the history of the World Cup.
Italy – 1982
Surrounded by scandal, this Italy team emerged from disarray to win the World Cup. They didn’t even win any of their group games, playing out three draws, before they exploded in the latter stages.
They beat Argentina and Brazil on the way to victory, with Golden Boot winner Paolo Rossi bagging a hat-trick against the latter. Suitable for slow starters!
Brazil – 1970
The Brazil team of 1970 is arguably the most incredible in World Cup history. No team before or since has dominated the world stage like this Brazil team did that summer.
More than winning the tournament, Brazil inspired an entire generation. There was something unforgettable about the grace they played with, cementing themselves as the greatest ever to do it. Lifting the cup was made exceptional due to the goal in the final against Italy by Carlos Alberto.
West Germany – 1974
After already claiming the trophy in the European Championship of 1972, West Germany took things to a higher level in their efforts to dominate the World Cup in 1974.
They built the team around the slick and stylish Franz Beckenbauer. The talent didn’t stop there, with Gerd Müeller leading from the front, sweeping up balls and dominating the opposition defenders.
The team didn’t have an easy run either, having to defeat a very talented France team to make it to the final.
France – 1986
Throughout history, if you’re looking for good soccer odds, France has been a healthy choice. They have produced some of the greatest players to grace the field, which was no different in the 1986 World Cup. Although the team didn’t win, they still had a massive impact on the tournament.
The team’s inspiration came from the all-action midfield performances of Michel Platini.
This French team was already European champions, and many people say they seriously underachieved with the talent they had on the field. Reaching the semi-finals seemed easy, but they were eliminated by a West German side who had reached their second final in succession.
The Netherlands – 1978
The Netherlands was one of the greatest teams to ever play in the World Cup, but it’s also one of the only teams to have lost successive finals. In 1974, the Netherlands was beaten by a fearsome West Germany, who had already picked up a European Championship two years before.
The Dutch were heartbroken once again four years later at the next tournament. Having reached the final for a second time, many believed they would right their wrongs and take the trophy home, but they were defeated again, this time by Argentina.
Looking back, the team should have lifted the trophy in 1970, which could have propelled them to become winners again, but that is the nasty side of soccer.
England – 1966
Although they had the advantage of playing on home soil, the 1966 England team was a force to be reckoned with, which led them to lift the trophy that year.
Players such as Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst strengthened the team in attack. The final that year was against West Germany, which was decided in the extra time in one of the most significant and dramatic matches ever played out in World Cup history.
Brazil – 2002
The Brazilian team of 2002 is the only side to have won seven games in a World Cup tournament. The run to lifting the trophy seemed too easy for the side, who outscored their opponents by 18 goals to four. Brazil 2002 was the complete package.
They could defend, they could attack, they could do everything and anything. They only conceded one goal in the knockout stages, with Ronaldo tallying up an eight-goal record. There was no chance for any other team to do anything about their might. All they could do was stand back and marvel at the magic!
Spain – 2010
The prime Spain team of 2010 would be fit to grace any World Cup of any era. The original tiki-taka style of play dazed and confused opponents, making them work much harder than usual.
The likes of Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta and Xavi displayed their natural skill in tearing teams apart with what seemed like an effortless approach.