Power Ranking the FIFA World Cup Finals

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IApril 20, 2011

Power Ranking the FIFA World Cup Finals

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    MADRID, SPAIN - JULY 12:  MADRID, SPAIN - JULY 12: Spanish singer Amaia Montero with the trophy on a stage set up for the Spanish team victory ceremony on July 12, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. Spain won the 2010 FIFA football World Cup match against the Netherl
    Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    Since 1930, the FIFA World Cup has brought the world's best teams together for football's greatest event. 19 times, the Cup has been disputed, with Brazil garnering the trophy five times.

    The FIFA World Cup Finals have been blessed with great goals, great skill and intense drama from start to finish. 

    This is Bleacher Report's Power Rankings of the 19 FIFA World Cup Finals contested. More emphasis has been given to the closeness of each FIFA World Cup Final. The more dramatic a Final gets, the higher up the ladder it goes.

    Note that the 1950 Final was a deciding contest in group play, so, for all intents and purposes, this has also been recognized as a FIFA World Cup Final.

    Let's take a look.

19. 1998: France 3-0 Brazil

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    It was a literal walk in the park for Les Bleus, who, in spite of going down to 10 men, won the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final rather easily in a 3-0 shutout to put this match dead last.

    At the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Zinedine Zidane scored a brace with goals in the 27th minute and the first minute of first-half stoppage time. Emmanuel Petit capped off the scoring in the 90th minute of play.

    It was a one-sided affair, with France's Didier Deschamps and Christian Karembeu holding Brazil's Leonardo and Rivaldo at bay. Add the fact that Ronaldo was not in form heading up to the final, and it results in France walking to the title.

18. 1970: Brazil 4-1 Italy

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    The 1970 FIFA World Cup Final between Brazil and Italy, held at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca, was a straightforward affair for Brazil, albeit they were tested in the first half.

    Powered by Pele and Carlos Alberto, the Selecao would not be denied their third of five stars.

    Pele opened the scoring in the 18th minute for Brazil, but Italy's Roberto Boninsegna would equalize in the 37th minute.

    In the second half, Brazil upped the ante with three unanswered goals. Gerson scored in the 66th minute, Jairzinho made it 3-1 in the 71st and Carlos Alberto finished the proceedings with a goal in the 86th minute of play.

    There is a footnote to all of this: while Brazil earned the right to retain the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently after winning the FIFA World Cup three times, it was stolen while on display in Rio De Janeiro in 1983 and was never recovered.

17. 1958: Brazil 5-2 Sweden

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    The 1958 World Cup Final, held at the Råsunda Stadium in Solna, Sweden, marked the coming-out party for a certain Brazilian icon by the name of Pele. This also marked the beginning of Brazil's rise in the competition with their first FIFA World Cup.

    Sweden's Nils Liedholm opened the proceedings in the fourth minute of play. The lead for the Blågult would be short-lived, as the Selecao got to work.

    Vavá earned his brace with goals in the ninth and 32nd minutes to make it 2-1 Brazil at the break. Pele then put the game out of reach with a scorcher in the 55th minute of play.

    Agne Simonsson pulled one back in the 80th minute, but it was too little, too late. Mario Zagallo made it 4-2 in the 68th minute of play and Pele completed his brace, putting the icing on the cake in the 90th minute.

    This match holds the record for most goals scored in a World Cup Final. However, it wasn't as close as some of the other Finals; hence its rank as 17th.

16. 2002: Brazil 2-0 Germany

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    After a terrible display in the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final against France, Brazil bounced back in a big way with a 2-0 shutout of Germany in the 2002 Final held at the Yokohama International Stadium.

    Ronaldo, who was inept against Fabien Barthez four years ago, redeemed himself with goals in the 67th and 79th minutes of play.

    With the title, Brazil earned its last of five stars, a feat that has yet to be replicated. Cafu also made history by being the first to appear in three FIFA World Cup Finals. Finally, the Selecao because the first team to win all seven possible games without extra time or penalties.

15. 1982: Italy 3-1 West Germany

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    Coming in at 15th is the 1982 FIFA World Cup Final between Italy and West Germany, held at the home of Real Madrid, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

    An uninteresting first half gave way to a scintillating second half of play, when Paolo Rossi opened the scoring proceedings in the 57th minute. Marco Tardelli made it 2-0 Azzuri in the 69th minute and Alessandro Altobelli put the game out of reach with a goal in the 81st.

    Paul Breitner pulled one back for the Germans in the 83rd minute, but the damage was already done. Dino Zolff, at age 40, became the oldest player to win the FIFA World Cup.

14. 1962: Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia

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    The 1962 FIFA World Cup Final was held at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile, with Brazil looking to defend their crown.

    No Pele? No problem for the Selecao. While Czechoslovakia's Josef Masopust scored in the 15th minute, Brazil equalized a couple minutes later thanks to Amarildo.

    The second half was all Brazil, as Zito scored the go-ahead in the 69th minute and Vavá completed a successful defense in the 78th minute of play to give Brazil their second star.

13. 1978: Argentina 3-1 Netherlands

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    The 1978 FIFA World Cup Final was held at the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti in Buenos Aires, the home of Club Atletico River Plate.

    Mario Kempes opened the scoring with a goal in the 38th minute of play to make it 1-0 Argentina at the break. It looked to be a sure thing for La Albiceleste, until Dick Nanninga equalized in the 82nd minute for the Oranje.

    In extra time, Kempes was the hero with a goal in the 105th minute of play. Daniel Bertoni capped off the scoring for Argentina to seal the deal.

    The Dutch were displeased with some stalling tactics used by the hosts, such as the hosts coming out late to delay the contest. After the full-time whistle was blown by referee Sergio Gonella, the Oranje were nowhere to be seen from the post-match ceremonies.

12. 1938: Italy 4-2 Hungary

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    At the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris, Italy looked to defend their FIFA World Cup crown against Hungary. The match got off to a flying start, with three goals in 16 minutes.

    Gino Colaussi opened the proceeding in the sixth minute of play for Italy, while Pal Titkos equalized in the eighth minute for the Magyars. Silvio Piola gave Italy the lead for good in the 16th minute of play, while Colaussi earned his brace in the 35th minute.

    While Gyorgi Sarosi added a second for Hungary in the 70th minute, it would not be enough, as Piola completed his own brace in the 82nd minute to give Italy their second World Cup title.

11. 1930: Uruguay 4-2 Argentina

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    Smack-dab in the middle of the FIFA World Cup Final Power Rankings is the 1930 Final between Argentina and Uruguay, two sides that also dueled for the final at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

    At the historic Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, both teams traded goals in the first 20 minutes: Uruguay's Pablo Dorado in the 12th and Argentina's Carlos Peucelle in the 20th minute. La Albiceleste went into the break on a 2-1 halftime lead off a 37th minute goal by Guillermo Stabile.

    In the second half, Uruguay took over, with goals from Pedro Cea in the 57th minute, Santos Iriarte in the 68th and Hectoer Castro in the 89th minute of play.

    The aftermath? A national holiday proclaimed by Uruguayan president Juan Campisteguy, while back in Buenos Aires, a mob of angry Argentine supporters stoned the Uruguayan consulate.

10. 1966: England 4-2 West Germany

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    Coming in at 10th in our FIFA World Cup Final Power Rankings is the historic 1966 Final at the old Wembley Stadium. England, under manager Alf Ramsey and captain Bobby Moore, utilized a then-unconventional 4-4-2 Diamond formation.

    Helmut Haller scored in the 12th minute for West Germany before Geoff Hurst scored the first of his hat trick of goals in the 18th minute. Martin Peters made it 2-1 England in the 78th minute before Wolfgang Weber equalized in the 89th minute to force extra time.

    The second goal by Hurst had its share of controversy. It bounced off the cross bar, but did not completely clear the line...and yet Tofik Bakhramov, the linesmen nearest to the goal, awarded it anyway. The goal continues to be debated as passionately as the person who shot John F. Kennedy.

    "And here comes Hurst. He's got... some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over. It is now! It's four!" exclaimed the BBC's Kenneth Wolstenholme.

    The victory triggered an iconic photograph of Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet Trophy which was further immortalized into a statue, a commemorative stamp and the Wolstenholme commentary and controversial goal turning into cultural memes.

9. 1990: West Germany 1-0 Argentina

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    After Argentina defeated West Germany in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final, Die Mannschaft were looking for revenge against La Albiceleste in the 1990 Final, held at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

    It was a tense affair, with Argentina having to go down to nine men three minutes before the full time whistle. To add insult to ejection, Argentina became the first team to be shut out in a FIFA World Cup Final.

    Andreas Brehme converted an 85th minute penalty to give West Germany their third and last star to date.

8. 2010: Spain 1-0 Netherlands

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    Soccer City in Johannesburg, the Big Calabash, was home to the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final between Spain and the Netherlands.

    Match referee Howard Webb called an unusually tight final, with 14 yellow cards and a red card issued to the Oranje's John Heltinga.

    With both sides engaging in a very physical encounter with very little production to show for it, the match would go into extra time.

    Andres Iniesta was the hero for Spain, scoring in the 116th minute of play. He was one of the 13 players who was given a caution after taking his jersey off.

7. 1974: West Germany 2-1 Netherlands

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    Coming in at seventh in the FIFA World Cup Final Power Rankings is the 1974 Final between West Germany, led by Franz Beckenbauer, and the Netherlands, powered by Total Football and Johan Cruyff. The match was held at the Olympiastadion in Munich.

    Just two minutes into the match, Holland's Johan Neeskens scored the first penalty in FIFA World Cup Final history. Paul Breitner scored a penalty for West Germany in the 25th minute. 

    In the 43rd minute, Gerd Muller scored the deciding goal for Die Mannschaft. It would also be the last-ever goal he would score for West Germany, who also became the first team to win the FIFA World Cup as reigning European champion, an accomplishment that would not be replicated until 36 years later, when Spain duplicated the same feat in 2010.

6. 1950: Uruguay 2-1 Brazil

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    It was an upset for the ages at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro as Brazil got toppled by Uruguay.

    Just about everyone in South America and elsewhere—from fans to the press— had already labeled Brazil as the new world champions, with the Selecao garnering a 2-0-0 record in the final round, and Uruguay possession a 1-0-1 record.

    Furthermore, Brazil had crushed Spain and Sweden by a combined score of 13-2.

    210,000 people filled the Maracana for this momentous occasion. Obdulio Varela, Uruguay's team captain, was quoted to say, "Muchachos, los de afuera son de palo. ¡Que comience la función!"  "Guys, forget all the talk going on out there. Let's get this party started!"

    And they did. While Friaça scored for Brazil in the 47th minute, Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalized in the 66th and Alcides Ghiggia scored the game-winner in the 79th minute of play for Uruguay.

    The crowd went silent after that Ghiggia goal, which completed the Maracanazo, the Maracana Blow.

    A number of players at the time for Brazil hung up their cleats, some fans ended their own lives, and other players for Brazil never donned the strip of the Selecao again, which was changed to it current color scheme of yellow and blue.

5. 1934: Italy 2-1 Czechslovakia

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    Coming in at fifth in our FIFA World Cup Final Power Rankings in the 1934 Final between Italy and Czechoslovakia, held at the Stadio Nazionale PNF in Rome.

    It was a close, defensive state of affairs for both teams, and things would not start to heat up until the 76th minute, when Antonin Puc scored for the Czechoslovaks.

    Afterwards, the Azzuri took over. Italy's Raimundo Orsi scored the equalizer in the 89th minute. As the match went into extra time, Angelo Schiavio became the hero with a gave winner in the 95th minute to give Italy their first-ever World Cup trophy.

4. 1954: West Germany 3-2 Hungary

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    Another upset for the ages followed that in Rio de Janeiro on July 4, 1954, when West Germany took on favorites Hungary at the Wankdorf Stadion in Bern.

    The Magyars, led by Ferenc Puskás, had won gold at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki and ran up a 32-game unbeaten streak. However, Puskás suffered an ankle injury in group play despite being selected for the final.

    Playing through the injury, Puskás opened the scoring with a goal in the sixth minute of play. Zoltan Czibor added another goal in the eighth minute to make it 2-0 Hungary.

    It seemed destined to be another day at the office for the Magyars. Or was it?

    Max Morlock pulled one back in the 10th minute, and Helmut Rahn got the equalizer eight minutes after. At the break, it was 2-2.

    In the 84th minute, Rahn earned the game winner, to the delight of radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann...

    "Aus dem Hintergrund müsste Rahn schießen, Rahn schießt - TOR, TOR, TOR!"

    ...and after a late would-be equalizer from Puskás was called back due to offsides, the upset was complete.

    "AUS! AUS! AUS! Das Spiel ist aus! Deutschland ist Weltmeister, schlägt Ungarn 3 zu 2!"

    This FIFA World Cup Final would be a turning point in the history of post-World War II Germany.

3. 1986: Argentina 3-2 West Germany

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    Diego Maradona continues to be reviled and respected by many football fans, players and coaches around the world and England for the "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals.

    One round later, the result would set the stage for an exciting final at the Azteca in Mexico City between Argentina and West Germany.

    Argentina raced to a 2-0 lead off of goals by Jose Luis Brown in the 23rd minute and Jorge Valdano in the 55th minute. West Germany would storm right back, with goals by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the 74th and Rudi Voller in the 80th minute.

    Jorge Burruchaga would score the decisive game-winner in the 83rd minute of play to secure Argentina's second star.

    The 1986 FIFA World Cup Final was known for its chippiness, with six yellow cards issued.

2. 2006: Italy 1-1 France (Italy Wins on Penalties 5-3)

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    A tense affair between regional neighbors France and Italy highlighted the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, held at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany.

    Les Bleus's Zinedine Zidane opened the scoring in the seventh minute of play, while Marco Materazzi would counter in the 19th minute for the Azzuri. Both sides were unable to generate any more production in regulation.

    As the match went into extra time, Zidane would be sent off in the 110th minute for a headbutt on Materazzi. The deadlock dragged on, forcing penalties for the second time at a FIFA World Cup Final.

    David Trezeguet may as well be considered the fall guy for France, as he was the only one who failed to convert his penalty. Sylvain Wiltord, Eric Abidal and Willy Sagnol converted theirs.

    As for Italy, it was target practice. Andrea Pirlo, Materrazi, Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Grosso converted their spot kick, with the Grosso conversion giving Italy their fourth star.

1. 1994: Brazil 0-0 Italy (Brazil Wins on Penalties 3-2)

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    One of the tensest FIFA World Cup Finals anyone will see came in the 1994 edition, held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Brazil and Italy were unable to find the net after two halves and two extra time periods.

    So the match, for the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, would go down to penalties.

    It was a nervous affair at first, with Marcio Santos missing for Brazil and Franco Baresi missing for Italy. Demetrio Albertini then converted his shot, and so did Romario. Alberigo Evani then took his spot kick. Easy as you like.

    Branco converted his for Brazil. Daniele Massaro was next. A miss. Dunga was then up to take a free kick. Converted.

    And so it was up to the highly-touted Roberto Baggio to keep hope alive for Italy. He failed, and it gave Brazil their fourth of five stars.

    This penalty shootout was the finishing touch to an exciting game that had more drama and more closeness than any other FIFA World Cup Final already contested, and this it why it is first in our FIFA World Cup Final Power Rankings.