The FIFA World Cup is the most widely viewed & followed sporting event in the world. It is the beautiful game’s greatest prize, one which every growing footballer dreams about winning. They aim to perform at the world’s grandest stage & make their name immortal. Over the years some legendary teams have competed & won the World Cup. And it has been graced by many of the game’s greatest stars who led their nations to glory on the sport’s biggest stage. While some fell achingly short of lifting the trophy, but still managed to dazzle and delight, winning a special place in the hearts of fans. But which teams are the greatest of the great? Here are the 5 greatest World Cup teams of all-time ranked by PlayerzPot SportsGuru:
Number 5 – Argentina 1986
This side is often wrongfully regarded as a “one-man team”. The magical Diego Maradona dominated the tournament in Mexico, but this was hardly a one-man team. Maradona was ably abetted by the hard-working Jorge Luis Burruchaga, the sublime talents of Jorge Valdano, and Oscar Ruggeri, the latter a solid presence in the centre of Argentina’s defense. With Maradona at his devilish best, the Mexican crowds adopted Argentina as their team, as the South American nation won its second World Cup. Their manager, Carlos Bilardo should go down in history not only as a great manager, but as a great character. To call him a perfectionist would be an understatement. After seeing his side win the World Cup final 3-2, he still berated his defenders after the game for conceding from two set pieces after being 2-0 up.
Number 4 – Italy 1982
The Azzurri started slowly in Spain, drawing all three of their opening round games – including against World Cup debutantes Cameroon – and only managed to scrape into the quarter-finals by the skin of their teeth. Once they made it to the knockout stage, however, the Italians underwent an amazing transformation, dispatching defending champions Argentina, Brazil, Poland in the semifinals and a dangerous West German team in the final. Not bad for slow starters. The victory by the 1982 team, led by Paolo Rossi’s tournament-leading six goals, is proof that anything is possible. A slight and sprightly winger who converted to centre-forward, Rossi had an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. He exploded onto the stage with a hat trick against Brazil, a brace against Poland in the Semis and a vital goal in the final against Germany.
Number 3 –France 1998
Led by the brilliant Zinedine Zidane at the peak of his powers, Les Bleus romped on home soil to its first World Cup crown. France put Italy and Croatia to the sword in majestic fashion in the knockout round before humiliating the favored Brazilians in the final with an emphatic 3-0 victory. What’s more, they conceded just two goals in the entire competition. France were champions of the world and over a million French fans danced the night away on the Champs Elysées. The world’s most famous avenue was a flurry of tricolore flags, the sound of car horns and cheers of fans filling the night sky. As the throngs partied, an image of Zinedine Zidane was projected onto the Arc de Triomphe along with two words: ‘Merci Zizou’. The masses roared in appreciation and, in that moment, Zidane’s status as the foremost cultural icon of his generation in France was sealed.
Number 2 – West Germany 1974
An incredibly talented team, with Captain Franz Beckenbauer, goalkeeper Sepp Maier and goal-scoring machine Gerd Muller forming the core. They had won the European Championship just two years ago. The Germans overcame a shocking first-round loss to lowly East Germany to win their second World Cup, much to the delight of their fans. That the Germans were able to win the final in Munich by overcoming Johan Cruyff and a Netherlands side that was at the height of its “Total Football” revolution, made their victory all the more memorable. Barely a minute from the start in the final, the Dutch went ahead when Cruyff won a penalty, scored by Johan Neeskens. However, Paul Breitner equalised after 25 minutes and just before half-time Gerd Muller scored the clincher. Muller finished his World Cup tally with 14 goals, the last of them being the tournament clincher.
Number 1 – Brazil 1970
Touted as many of being the greatest football team of all time, no country has won the World Cup with such heavy domination as the Brazil team of 1970. The squad included some legendary players like Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelino and Carlos Alberto. The Brazilians did more than win the tournament, they inspired a generation. In the final they thrashed Italy 4-1 before more than 100,000 fans jammed inside of Mexico City’s iconic Estadio Azteca. Brazil won all its plaudits on merit. It was the first nation to win all its games at the World Cup; the first to have a player, Jairzinho, score in each game; and the first nation to become a three-time world champion. Brazil did it in first-class style. It was their players: strong, fast, skilled, each capable of inventing a priorly unseen moment of magic. It was their football: quick, imaginative, and full of flair, Brazil set the precedent for a fluid and potent offence. It was joga bonito – the zest to play beautifully.
Who do you think is the greatest World Cup team of all time? Let us know in the comments below.