FIFA World Cup Classics – The greatest games of all time

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup just around the corner, international teams can start to dream about being crowned world champions. Over the years since the inaugural FIFA World Cup in 1930, eight national teams have been able to call themselves World Champions.

Brazil are the most successful team, lifting the World Cup on five occasions. Germany (including West Germany) have been to a record eight World Cup finals, lifting the trophy on four occasions with Italy also winning the World Cup four times.

France will be the defending champions when the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar on 20 November, looking to add to their two previous triumphs. Argentina and Uruguay have also won the World Cup twice, with Spain and England winning the trophy once in their illustrious histories.

All of these teams have been involved in some great games over the past 90 years and it is hoped that more matches will be added to the list of all-time great World Cup games in 2022

Brazil, one of the world’s most popular football teams, enter the 2022 World Cup as the favourites with Betway Sports to lift their sixth title with France and Argentina just behind. It is likely that the winner will once again come from the list of previous winners with England ranked fourth favourites and Spain fifth.

When we consider some of the great World Cup matches of all time, many of the past winners feature, having been involved in some epic duals dating back to 1930.

Here is a rundown of some of the matches that are often considered the greatest World Cup matches of all time.

England 4-2 West Germany (1966 World Cup Final)

This is a match that resonates with England fans more than any other and a match that is still sung about to this day (Three Lions). Whilst it is a match that England fans remember well, it is also regarded as one of the best World Cup Finals in history.

Held in England, the host nation and bitter rivals West Germany were tied at 2-2 heading into extra time. England were without their main centre forward, Jimmy Greaves and had called in Geoff Hurst as a replacement.

Hurst would famously go on to score a hattrick in the final, cementing his name in World Cup folklore as well as in the hearts of English fans forever.

This still remains England’s only every World Cup triumph. Last time out in 2018, they came up one game short, losing to Croatia in the Semi-Final and they will be hoping to go one step further in Qatar.

Italy 4-3 West Germany (1970 World Cup Semi-Final)

Following on from their heartbreak in the 1966 World Cup Final against England, West Germany were involved in another of the World Cup’s greatest-ever matches at the following World Cup held in Mexico.

Often referred to as the “game of the century”. Italy fought back to claim a famous victory and once again break West German hearts. With the scores tied at 1-1, extra time was once again required to separate these two teams. A remarkable five goals were scored during the additional half an hour of play – a record that still stands today, with Italy eventually coming out on top.

With over 100,000 people in attendance in the searing Mexico City heat, the atmosphere was electric as Italy held on to claim a famous victory.

They would go on to lose the final against Brazil with West Germany finally breaking their losing streak four years later when they beat the Netherlands on home soil in Munich.

Brazil 2-3 Italy (1982 World Cup Second Round)

It may seem unusual that a second-round fixture makes it into a list of the greatest World Cup matches of all time, however, this game must go down as one of the best.

By 1982, Brazil had already won the World Cup three times and Italy twice. Brazil entered the match known for their open, attacking football. Italy, on the other hand, had taken to playing a more defensive style of football, one that was to be adopted by a number of international teams following this tournament. Defence was to come out on top on this day, and despite playing a defensive formation, they still managed to score three goals with Paolo Rossi bagging a hattrick.

Italy became known as the godfather of defensive football following the 1982 World Cup as they would go on to defeat West Germany in the final in Madrid – a victory for defensive football.

Other notable matches

From Uruguay’s upset at the 1950 World Cup against Brazil to their controversial victory over Ghana at the 2010 World Cup, there have been some absolute classic matches at the World up over the past 90 years. Here are some of the other classics:

  • Uruguay 2-1 Brazil (1950 World Cup Final)
  • West Germany 3-3 France (1982 World Cup Semi-Final)
  • Argentina 2-2 England (1998 World Cup Second Round)
  • Ghana 1-1 Uruguay (2010 World Cup Quarter-Final)
  • Romania 3-2 Argentina (1994 World Cup Last 16)
  • Belgium 3-2 Japan (2018 World Cup Last 16)
  • Spain 1-5 Netherlands (2014 World Cup Group Stage)


Qatar 2022 will hope to add to the list of all-time World Cup classics and with some enticing group games already locked in, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some unforgettable games added to the list this year.