News

World Cup final: The top 3 shocks in football’s biggest game

15 Jul, 2018 11:01
World Cup final: The top 3 shocks in football’s biggest game
Get short URL https://on.rt.com/9a7z
PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP

France meet Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday with Les Bleus heavily fancied to claim their second title to add to their famous victory on home soil in 1998.

While Croatia are a classy, hard-working team that can draw on the considerable talents of key players Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, many believe France have too much quality in their own ranks not to finish the job in Russia – especially as Les Bleus looked imperious in easing past a much-heralded Belgian team in the semi-finals.  

READ MORE: ‘Croatia don’t make noise, look at what England did’ – Davor Suker on World Cup war of words  

However, history shows that the French have reason to be wary, as past World Cup finals have thrown up some memorable shocks that have resonated down the years. RT Sport takes a look at three of the biggest.  

BRAZIL 1950: BRAZIL 1-2 URUGUAY

Technically not a final as the 1950 tournament involved two group stages rather than a group phase then a knockout competition.

However, events at the tournament nonetheless conspired to ensure that everything would hinge on the last game between hosts Brazil and South American rivals Uruguay – effectively making it the final many had hoped for.

The Brazilians were aiming for their first World Cup title, and went into the game as heavy favorites, having triumphed in the previous year’s Copa America and with a team containing the indomitable talents of Zizinho.

Brazil had handed out some hammerings at the tournament, beating Mexico 4-0 in their opening game, as well as thrashing Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1 in the two games leading up to the decisive encounter with Uruguay.

While the Uruguayans, winners in 1930, had demolished Bolivia 8-0 in their first group game, they had labored to a subsequent 2-2 draw against the Swedes and a 3-2 win against Spain.

Brazil only needed a draw to secure the World Cup title in front of nearly 200,000 fans packed into an expectant Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, and things seemed to be going to plan when they took a 47th-minute lead through Friaca.

READ MORE: France and Croatia one step away from World Cup glory

However, joy turned to despair when Juan Alberto Schiaffino leveled for Uruguay from a cut-back on 66 minutes, before Ghiggia did the unthinkable and handed the unfancied Uruguayans the lead with a low drive into the net 10 minutes from time.

Brazil pressed frantically for a winner but their fate was sealed. The defeat sent a nation reeling into shock, and caused Brazil to scrap their white shirts for the yellow that is now associated with the Samba Boys.

Pele has even remembered how, as a young boy, he saw his father in tears at the result - which drove him on to help Brazil to their first World Cup title in Sweden eight years later.       

SWITZERLAND 1954: WEST GERMANY 3-2 HUNGARY

The final that followed Brazil’s stunning defeat also threw up a shock so big it has been dubbed ‘The Miracle of Bern’ after the city that hosted the tournament finale between West Germany and the ‘Magical Magyars’ of Hungary.     

Going into the tournament the Hungarians had not lost a full international since 1950, and had notably beat England 6-3 at Wembley and hammered them 7-1 in Budapest in that time.

Their star man was the inside-left Ferenc Puskas, a legend of the sport and with one of the fiercest shots ever seen in the game.

READ MORE: Lack of recovery time could hurt Croatia in World Cup final vs France – Mourinho

The West Germans, on the other hand, had returned to the international football fold following the war, but were not widely tipped as among the contenders heading into Switzerland.

The pair had even met at the group stage, with Hungary running out 8-3 winners, but with controversy over West German manager Sepp Herberger’s decision to rest key players and appear to sacrifice the match for a more straightforward playoff against Turkey.

Perhaps the key outcome of the hammering dealt out by the Magyars was an injury to Puskas, which meant he was still struggling for fitness when the pair met again in the final.

West Germany had dispatched Austria 6-1 in their semi-final while Hungary had needed extra-time to beat Uruguay, but the Magyars were still seen as a safe bet to clinch their first World Cup title – especially as Puskas returned to the line-up, although clearly not fully fit.

READ MORE: Watch footage claiming to show Luka Modric as 5yo protecting family goats from wolves

They seemed on course for the inevitable when Puskas and Zoltan Czibor put them 2-0 up in the first eight minutes, although the West Germans quickly showed they would not let their much-fancied opponents have things all their own way by drawing level through goals from Maximilian Morlock and Rahn on 10 and 18 minutes respectively.

The Hungarians dominated large parts of the game in an attempt to retake the lead, before the killer blow befell Puskas and co. when Helmut Rahn grabbed his second and the Germans’ third with a low drive from the edge of the box on 84 minutes.

They held on for the win and a famous victory – the first for what became one of football’s powerhouses.

FRANCE 1998: FRANCE 3-0 BRAZIL

Not so much an upset that the French won, but more the ease with which they swept past a Brazil team that were reigning champions and boasted the considerable talents of young striker Ronaldo as well as Dunga, Leonardo, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos.

An incident involving Ronaldo before the game was perhaps what sent Brazil into a shell-shocked state from which they never recovered, when the youngster suffered a seizure in his room on the day of the game, leading to him being removed from the team only to reappear on the team-sheet shortly before kick-off.

While France boasted considerable talent in the form of Zinedine Zidane in midfield alongside captain Didier Deschamps - who is manager of the current team - and others such as Marcel Desailly and Lillian Thuram, few would have expected them to inflict what at that point was Brazil’s heaviest World Cup defeat.

In the end they ran out 3-0 winners thanks to a headed double from Zidane and a late goal from midfielder Emmanuel Petit, as Brazil never really got going in Paris.  

The French were worthy winners, but they way they put Brazil to the sword was a shock to many.

The current French team would do well to guard against complacency on Sunday against Croatia as they look to add to the World Cup title won in such stunning circumstances in 1998.

Croatia, meanwhile, we be hoping for the 'Miracle of Moscow' that would perhaps eclipse all the shocks that have come before.