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A new champion awaits

A new champion awaits
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First Published: Fri, Jul 09 2010. 10 49 PM IST

Updated: Fri, Jul 09 2010. 10 49 PM IST
The intense planetary buzz surrounding the month-long Fifa World Cup is now focused on just two teams. Two teams that have never won the Cup before and will compete for a place with the elite and exclusive club of seven nations that have already won the tournament. The Dutch will carry the burden of losing two consecutive finals in 1974 and 1978, while Spain will be looking to rewrite their history of underachievement, a process that started with their triumph in the 2008 European championship. We pick three key players from each team — the men who can change the outcome of the final with one moment of brilliance, and help a country put its hands on the golden trophy for the first time.
What in the world?
A World Cup without controversies is a flavourless dish, and thankfully that has never happened. Here are the top controversies from the 2010 World Cup, which could lead to lasting changes in the way football is played
Final Showdown
A look at past World Cup finals and their defining moments
1930 Uruguay 4-2 Argentina
Controversies surrounding the World Cup ball are not new—in the first World Cup final, Argentina played with their own ball in the first half and Uruguay played with theirs in the second
1934 Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia
The World Cup shifted to Europe from South America, and both the previous finalists refused to take part in the tournament. All the better for Italy, which became the second host nation to lift the Cup
1938 Italy 4-2 Hungary
Italy set the tone for their dominance of world football by winning a second straight title, helped by Silvio Piola’s brace in the final
1950 Uruguay 2-1 Brazil
Back after a forced hiatus due to World War II, the Cup moved to Brazil, the spiritual home of the game. The Maracana, the world’s largest football stadium, was built for this tournament, but even the partisan support was not good enough to stop Uruguay
1954 West Germany 3-2 Hungary
Commonly called “Das Wunder von Berne” (The miracle of Bern), this is the final that put a stop to Hungary’s incredible 31-match-winning run. Hungary raced to a two-goal lead in just 8 minutes, before West Germany made a brilliant comeback
1958Brazil 5-2 Sweden
Finally, a World Cup for Brazil. No surprise then that this was the tournament where a 17-year-old goal machine Pelé burst on to the scene and the Brazilian concept of ‘joga bonito’ (beautiful play) was introduced to the world
1962 Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia
Once they started, Brazil couldn’t stop winning. They became the second team to defend their title, but this time the magic didn’t come from Pelé—it was a small, bent-legged Brazilian called Garrincha who lit up stadiums with his wizardry
1966 England 4-2 West Germany
In a thrilling roller-coaster final, West Germany drew first blood with a strike from Helmut Haller before Geoff Hurst equalized within 6 minutes. The pattern repeated, leading to extra time, where Hurst struck twice, notching up the only hat-trick in a World Cup final to date
1970 Brazil 4-1 Italy
Brazil’s free-flowing attacking game was pitted against Italy’s gritty defensive style. The result was a final that is widely regarded as one of the best football matches ever played, with a Pelé-inspired Brazil running rampant
1974 West Germany 2-1 Netherlands
Dutch captain Johan Cruyff’s “total football” paid off in the first minute of the final when the Netherlands scored from a penalty. But the Germans had the last laugh, scoring once from a controversial penalty and then a second from a Gerd Muller strike
1978 Argentina 3-1 Netherlands
It was double heartbreak for the Dutch, losing a second consecutive final to the host nation. Mario Kempes scored a brace in the final, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals and helping the Argentines win their first World Cup
1982 Italy 3-1 West Germany
Italy had failed to win their first three games at the Cup, but they left that behind with a brilliant counter-attacking game in the final for their third title
1986 Argentina 3-2 West Germany
This was Maradona’s Cup—and for most football fans, that’s all that needs to be said. Though Maradona did not score himself in the final, he did set up the third and decisive goal
1990 West Germany 1-0 Argentina
Despite Maradona’s presence, this was a cynical and defensive final, with more cards than goals. The only goal came in the 85th minute, courtesy a penalty
1994 Brazil 0(3)-0(2) Italy
This was the first World Cup final decided on a penalty shoot-out, and when Italy’s Roberto Baggio missed his, Brazil had a record fourth title
1998 France 3-0 Brazil
If 1986 was Maradona’s Cup, this one belonged firmly to Zinedine Zidane. Even the mighty Brazil could only look on
2002 Brazil 2-0 Germany
Brazil bounced back from their 1998 defeat to win a record fifth title, led by the indomitable Ronaldo, who scored both goals in the final
2006 Italy 1(5)-1(3) France
A final that is remembered more for Zinedine Zidane headbutting Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro during extra time. An unnerved France lost on penalties
Compiled by Rudraneil Sengupta
rudraneil.s@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Jul 09 2010. 10 49 PM IST
More Topics: World Cup | FIFA | Spain | Netherlands | Controversies |