The 2022 World Cup is almost upon us, a time when football takes centre stage worldwide.
Founded in 1930, the World Cup is an eagerly awaited competition played every four years. Initially, it was played in one city (Montevideo) and three stadiums, but by 2002 that had become 20 stadiums in 20 cities. The first tournament involved just 13 teams; in 2026, it will be expanded to 48.
The 2022 tournament is notable for many reasons. It s the first to visit the Middle East and the first to be played outside of the summer. It is the last to feature just 32 teams, and it has been condensed into a single month not to disrupt domestic seasons too much. It is also a competition surrounded by much controversy, according to The Guardian, from how it was awarded to the building of their stadiums.
As with most years, there are surprise omissions from this year’s competition, namely Italy. They failed to qualify for the second time in a row, despite winning Euro 2020. They’re the only notable side not to be in Qatar, with France, Argentina and England as three of the pre-tournament favourites. However, Brazil are top of the list of favourites in the current Coral odds, and as always, they’re expected to put in a strong showing. The famous yellow shirts are often cited as producing great World Cup teams throughout history, and they’re the only team to have been in every competition since 1930.
They have produced some great sides; they didn’t win in 1982 but were arguably the best team, whilst in 1966 they were kicked off the pitches despite playing some great football. They’re not the only nations to be lauded as the best of all time; we’ve picked three from across history for you to enjoy.
3 – West Germany (1974)
There is an opinion that the Netherlands team of the seventies are the finest footballers ever to grace a Word Cup and not win it. If that’s the case, the team that stopped them must be even better. Argentina 1978 was controversial, but in 1974 we saw ruthless German efficiency in motion. Led by Der Kaiser, Franz Beckenbauer and powered by Gerd Muller’s goals, they conceded just three times on the way to the final. They conceded the quickest penalty in a final after two minutes and still won 2-1. Ruthless and efficient.
2 – Spain (2010)
Until 2008, Spain were considered an underachiever in world football. With a single European Championship to their name (when the tournament had just four teams in it), they played host to the world’s biggest domestic clubs but never arrived on the biggest stage of them all. They won a proper European Championship in 2008 and went to the 2010 World Cup as favourites. After losing their opening game, they slipped into gear, playing a neat passing brand of football known as tiki-taka. Once they qualified for the final stages, they won every game they played 1-0 against Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and the Netherlands in an ill-tempered final. They were also the first European team to win a World Cup on another continent.
1 – Brazil (1970)
Ask anybody of a certain age the finest team to win a World Cup, and they’ll say Brazil 1970. Brazil delivers great teams at every turn; 1958, 1962, 1982, and 2002 were all fantastic examples. 1970 superseded all of those. Pele was in his prime, but others like Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto and Rivelino played their part. They won every game, including a famous 1-0 victory over England in a match many felt could easily have been the final, given the quality of both sides. Jairzinho made history by scoring in every round, and their destruction of Italy in the final is still talked about today. If any team performs in Qatar as Brazil did in Mexico, they’ll become instant icons worldwide.
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