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This winter sees the football World Cup touchdown in the Middle East for the first time.
Summer temperatures in Qatar were deemed unsuitable for the tournament, so world football has shifted to accommodate a November kick-off. CNN confirmed the World Cup final will be played on December 18, making it a very happy Christmas for one nation.
It will be a groundbreaking tournament for many reasons; it’s the final competition that will feature 32 teams, it’s being crammed into a shorter time frame, so games will take place at the same time, and the USMNT are expected to do well!
After failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia, Gregg Berhalter’s team will feature in Group B in Qatar, joined by Iran, Wales and England. That group is certainly favorable, and they’re rated as second favorites to qualify for the last 16, behind England in the latest football odds listed on Coral. They’re joined in Qatar by Canada, who are not expected to get out of their group, but it’s good preparation for the next event, in 2026, jointly held by the US, Canada and Mexico.
That World Cup will be equally as groundbreaking; never before have three countries hosted the event, and it will extend to 48 teams. It will also signal a landmark for Mexico, who will play host to a third tournament hosted in 1970 and again in 1986 after Colombia withdrew.
The next two competitions might be breaking new ground on paper, but what of the ones that have gone before? Which were the best? We’ve got the top ten, counting down, with some cool video clips to enjoy.
1994 brought ‘soccer’ to the United States, and it was a landmark tournament for many reasons. It saw some smaller European nations excel; Bulgaria went to the semifinals by beating pre-tournament favorites Germany in the quarterfinals. Romania beat a shellshocked Argentina 3-2 with the legendary Ghoerge Hagi pulling the strings. Nigeria and Saudi Arabia surprised everyone by making the last 16. With so many shocks, it was a shame the final is best remembered for Diana Ross’s terrible pre-match penalty.
1998 saw some sublime footballers plying their trade, from Ronaldo to Gabriel Batistuta, Davor Suker to Christina Vieri. In the final, France overwhelmed favorites Brazil, carrying an injured Ronaldo. The match of the tournament saw the Netherlands beat Argentina in the quarterfinals, with the sublime Dennis Bergkamp scoring a wonder goal.
The first World Cup broadcast in color was lit up Brazilian yellow. The free-flowing samba soccer of Pele, Jairzinho and co is forever etched in the memory of those who witnessed it. They brushed Italy aside in the final, winning 4-1, but the Azzuri’s 4-3 semifinal win over West Germany is the stuff of legends. West Germany had been involved in a classic in the quarterfinal, coming back from 2-0 down to beat England 3-2.
Italy 1990 had a poor goals return, but it was still brilliant. Cameroon captured the world’s hearts with their run to the quarterfinals. The best four teams had to be separated by penalties; Italy and England were eliminated in the semifinals, and a late Andreas Brehme penalty won the ill-tempered final for West Germany against nine-man Argentina in a repeat of the 1986 final.
What makes a great World Cup? In 1986, it was one man; Diego Maradona, and that’s why Mexico 86 is the best tournament ever. He was magical, scoring wonder goals, but also highly controversial with his ‘Hand of God’ goal in the quarterfinals. His Argentina side won a thrilling final 3-2 in the best World Cup of the modern era. Elsewhere, Denmark impressed in the group stages before being hammered by an emerging Spain, whilst England only conceded two goals all tournament, both scored by Maradona. It was the little genius who stole the headlines, and rightly so.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy our piece on top players, titled ‘Top 10 Football Players with Most Fans in the World’.
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- 10 Best quran reciters in the world
- 10 Best places to visit in Bangladesh
- 10 Best Places To Visit In Sri Lana
- 7 Best Muslim Leaders & Commanders in History
- 10 Astonishing Facts About The ISRO
- 10 Amazing Facts About Harley Quinn
- 10 Best Middle Eastern Foods
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