Top 10 World Cup Runner-ups in History
As it's been said in FIFA World Cup history, though the title winners have always been admired, sometimes the ones who end as runner-ups bear more interesting stories. In this article today, on the top World Cup runner-ups, we will tell you all about these teams' stories and their bitter endings.
The FIFA World Cup is a football competition that takes place every four years, in which national teams, members of the international football association(FIFA) compete with each other.
There have been 21 World cup tournaments hosted by 17 countries since the first World Cup on 13 July 1930 in Uruguay. So far, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Uruguay, Switzerland, Sweden, Chile, England, Argentina, Spain, the United States, Japan and South Korea jointly in 2002, South Africa, and Russia have hosted the tournament, and soon, the
2022 FIFA World Cup
will be take place in Qatar. Also eight national teams have succeeded in winning the World cup so far, including Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Spain, Argentina, France, and Uruguay. Among these nations, Brazil has the most World Cup titles, with five World Cups to its name.
As the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup is the most important tournament a nation could attend. At every event of the competition, the footballers try to make their country victorious and be useful in their national team. However, there sometimes is a bitter ending to some of the best generations of a nation as we look at the list of FIFA World Cup finals. Some nations who many believed deserved to win the greatest achievement of the football world, were doomed by chance. In this article today, we cover many of these stories. Stay tuned and enjoy.
All You Need to Know About the World Cup Runner-ups
Keep reading to know more about all the FIFA World Cup runner-ups and what went wrong with them on their path toward the title achievement.
Croatia–2018 World Cup
Route to Final:
Nigeria, Argentina, Iceland, Denmark, Russia, and England
Croatia's first appearance in a World Cup final came from a stunning performance that made the Croatian underdogs a key figure in the
FIFA World Cup history
, as well as the first entry in our list of the
top World Cup Runner-ups ever
. Croatia's national team was led by manager Zlatko Dalić at the 2018 World Cup. Zlatko Dalic made a significant change immediately after taking over as manager, moving Luka Modric to the No 10 position, a role the Real Madrid player has rarely occupied since his early days.
Croatia's opponents in the group stage were Nigeria, Argentina, and Iceland. It was considered a difficult draw due to Argentina's talent and Nigeria's historic performances. However, the team earned a 2–0 victory over Nigeria in their opening match. During their opening match, their striker Nikola Kalinić refused to enter the match as a substitute, and was expelled from the team by manager Zlatko Dalić, leaving Croatia with only 22 players for the remainder of the tournament.
Croatia went on to beat Argentina 3–0 by goals from Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic. Croatia finished at top of the group with a 2–1 win over Iceland, resting several starting players in the final group match. Continuing as the magic underdogs, Croatia played Denmark in the round of 16, winning 3-2 in penalties after a 1-1 draw in regular and extra time. This became a habit for the underdogs as they beat Russia on penalties as Croatia became the second team in World Cup to win two shoot-outs in a tournament. The shootout was won 4–3 by Croatia After the match, a video of Vida shouting
" prompted controversy among Russians and a warning from FIFA's disciplinary committee.
Croatia went on to win England 2-1 in the semi-finals of the tournament to reach the finals of the tournament for the first time in their history. The match began as they conceded a free-kick goal by English defender Kieran Trippier in the fifth minute. Croatia managed an equalizer by Perišić in the 68th minute, and they won the match 2–1 after a 109th-minute goal by Mandžukić. This made Croatia the first team to earn three come-from-behind victories in the FIFA World Cup, all three matches also going into extra time.
However, things were different for a stunning Croatia team with Modric and Rakitic at midfield, and Mandzukic, Rebic, and Presic on the front line. In the first minutes of Croatia’s final match against France, Croatia had the majority of ball possession. Then, in the 18th minute of the game, Mario Mandžukić scored an own goal and gave the lead to France when a free kick by Antoine Griezmann was diverted to the left corner of Croatia’s net by his head. But then, Ivan Perišić equalized ten minutes later with a left-footed shot. In the 38th minute, France won a penalty after Perišić's handball was reviewed by VAR. Griezmann scored the penalty and France finished the first half 2-1.
In the second half, Croatia’s counter-attack was stopped because of several pitch invaders. Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé scored two other goals for France and in the 69th minute of the match, Mandžukić scored the second goal of Croatia. The match ended in a 4-2 win for France. With 6 wins out of their 7 matches, France was the team with the most World Cup wins through the tournament.
France's win was their second World Cup title, following their victory in 1998. Griezmann was named the man of the match, while Croatia's Luka Modrić was awarded the Golden Ball as FIFA's outstanding player in the tournament. The final was the highest-scoring World Cup final since 1966. Croatian captain Modrić won the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament.
West Germany–1986 World Cup
Route to Final:
Uruguay, Scotland, Denmark, Morocco, Mexico, and France
The 1986 FIFA World Cup Final is amongst the greatest finals in the
list of FIFA World Cup finals
. The match was played between Argentina and West Germany on 29 June 1986 in Estadio Azteca, Mexico City. It's worth mentioning that this tournament was also hosted by Mexico. Argentina beat Belgium and West Germany defeated France in the semi-finals and, they faced each other in front of 114,600 attendants to see who will take the trophy home.
However, West Germany is deservedly the next entry in our list of the top 10 World Cup Runner-ups in history. Although they qualified as the runner-ups in the group stage behind Denmark and ahead of Scotland and Uruguay, they were victorious against Morocco, Mexico, and France to gain themselves a spot in the tournament's final match. A team with Harald Schumacher at Goal, Andreas Brehme as a full-back, Norbert Eder and Lothar Matthaus at midfield, and a stunning Karl-Heinz Rummenigge leading their attack ahead of the German icon Rudi Völler. However, they fell to the brilliance of Diego Maradona in the final match.
The game started with the whistle of the Brazillian referee Romualdo Arppi Filho and the first goal of the match came in the 23rd minute when José Luis Brown scored with a header. No other goals were scored in the first half. In the second half, Jorge Valdano succeeded in netting the second goal of Argentina in the 56th minute of the game with a low side-foot finish. Then in the 74th minute,Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
pulled a goal back for West Germany, and followed by that, Rudi Völler scored a header and West Germany equalized. But Argentina won the game after Diego Maradona assisted Jorge Burruchaga with a superb pass in the 86th minute and Burruchaga slid the ball into the corner of the net.
The second World Cup won by Argentina is regarded by many as the most important victory for an Argentine side. Four years later, both teams met in the final match of the 1990 World Cup, Where West Germany won the match. This was the first time that two World Cup finalists met twice. With the 1986 defeat, German manager Franz Beckenbauer gained the distinction of having lost a World Cup final as a player (in 1966) and also a manager. However, he gained the opposite record in 1990 as he managed Germany to victory, becoming a winner of the World Cup as a player (in 1974) and a manager.
Hungary–1954 World Cup
Route to Final:
South Korea, West Germany, Brazil, and Uruguay
: West Germany
Hungary has a respectable football history, having won 3 Olympic titles, finishing as the runners-up in the 1938 and 1954 World Cups, and third in the 1964 UEFA European Football Championship, and their best generation, known as the Mighty Magyars, was the one that reached the 1954 World Cup final while being a favorite to win the title from the beginning of the tournament.
Beating South Korea 9-0 and West Germany 8-3 in the group stage, and continuing marching over the South American giants, Brazil and Uruguay, winning both matches 4-2, The Hungarian reached the finals as the team with the
most World Cup wins
in the 1954 tournament. However, their group opponent, West Germany, took bitter revenge in the 1958 World Cup final.
In the early 1950s, the West Germany manager Sepp Herberger built the team around a nucleus of players from the club 1. FC Kaiserslautern, the German champions of 1951 and 1953, led by veteran playmaker Fritz Walter. Most of the West Germany players were semi-professionals who often worked in a second job or owned a business to support their incomes. Before the 1954 tournament, West Germany had played only a few friendly internationals and a short qualifying campaign as the three German entities emerging from the Second World War were not admitted to FIFA until late 1950. As a result, Germany missed the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
The match started and Hungary scored two goals within the first 10 minutes of the match. The goals were scored byPuskás
and Czibor. However, the Germans managed to pull back and equalized during the second ten minutes of the game. During the second half Hungary came out attacking and created plentiful chances but there were no goals.
With six minutes left, Schäfer dispossessed Bozsik and played a high cross into the penalty box. Rahn picked up Lantos' short clearance, feinted a pass to center forward Ottmar Walter that wrong-footed the Hungarian defenders, moved into the penalty box, and drove the ball hard and low past Grosics for the third German goal. And that's how Hungary's unbeaten run was over.
West Germany–1966 World Cup
Route to Final:
Switzerland, Argentina, Spain, Uruguay, and Soviet Union
The 1966 FIFA World Cup was held in England from 11 to 30 July as England was chosen as host of the 1966 World Cup in Rome, Italy, on 22 August 1960, over rival bids from West Germany. The rivalry continued in one of the most famous World Cup finals in history as England beat West Germany 4-2 in the final, winning their first and only FIFA World Cup title in the history.
However, West Germany had enough of a decent team not only to be included in our list of the top World Cup runner-ups in history but also to be one of the brightest teams not to win the World Cup.
In Group 2, West Germany and Argentina qualified with ease as they both finished the group with 5 points, as Germany won Switzerland 5-0 and Spain 2-1, and was held to a notorious 0-0 against Argentina. FIFA cautioned Argentina for its violent style in the group games, particularly in the scoreless draw with West Germany, which saw Argentinean Rafael Albrecht get sent off and suspended for the next match. The quarter-finals provided a controversial victory for West Germany as they cruised past Uruguay 4–0; the South Americans claimed that this occurred only after the referee (who was Jim Finney, from England) had not recognised a handball by Schnellinger on the goal line and then had sent off two players from Uruguay. Germany's semi-final against Soviet Union ended 2-1 with Franz Beckenbauer scoring the winning goal with a left foot shot from the edge of the area. In the other semi-final of the tournament, England beat Eusebio’s Portugal 2-1 with Bobby Charlton scoring both goals for England.
98,000 people attended the final match between two arch-rivals at London’s Wembley Stadium. In the 12th minute, Helmut Haller scored the first goal of the match for West Germany but England equalized when Helmut Haller scored with a downward glancing header.
The game went on to the second half and in the 78th minute England took the lead with a goal by Martin Peters, but West Germany scored another goal, when Wolfgang Weber scored in the 89th minute after an exciting battle between teams for the ball.
The match went on to the extra time and both sides tried desperately to take the lead but it was England that managed to score another goal when the ball hit the underside of the crossbar, bounced down, and was cleared. The referee awarded the goal although he was uncertain. The game was very Thrilling till the end and that's why it is among the best-ever world cup finals. Germans tried with all they had to equalize, but in the last minute scored another goal and England won 4-2.
Argentina–2014 World Cup
Route to Final:
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Netherlands
Being drawn in a group with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, and Nigeria, three hard-thought victories sent Argentina to the quarter-finals of the tournament, where they beat Switzerland 1-0 in the extra time. Argentina had the majority of the possession during the game but they failed to break down a Switzerland side who were playing defensively. The Swiss men held the match goalless until two minutes before the end of extra time when Messi set up Di María to score the winner past Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.
scored the only goal of their quarter-final draw against Belgium in the 8th minute through Higuaín before playing the Netherlands in the semi-final on 9 July, where there were no goals during the game. Argentina's first three penalty kicks by Messi, Ezequiel Garay, and Sergio Aguero were all scored. After two stunning saves by Romero, Maxi Rodriguez scored his penalty to give Argentina a 4–2 shoot-out win. Messi was the shining light for the runners-up Argentina, having a hand in all but one of their goals in the group stage, and then laying on an assist for Angel di Maria in the Round of 16 game against Switzerland.
The final match of the tournament featured Germany against Argentina for a record third time after 1986 and 1990. Argentina utilized something between a 4-2-2-2 and a 4-3-3. With Sergio Romero in goal and a back four of Marcos Rojo, Ezequiel Garay, Martin Demichelis, and Pablo Zabaleta, Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano occupied the two central midfield positions, sitting relatively deep to protect the defense. Ahead of them were Ezequiel Lavezzi and Enzo Perez; with Lionel Messi roaming behind Gonzalo Higuain in the attack. Argentina’s 4-2-2-2 was frequently becoming a 4-3-3 on the attack, as Lavezzi moved over to the right and made good use of his pace against Howedes and Hummels, with Messi drifting over to accompany him, and Perez filling in to bolster the left of the Argentine midfield.
Argentina had a goal disallowed for offside. Germany found themselves without an obvious midfield replacement, and the 4-2-3-1 which has characterized Joachim Low’s long tenure as Germany manager was replaced at the start of this World Cup with a 4-3-3. Muller played as the formation’s nominal front-man, with Ozil and Mario Gotze behind, and with Schweinsteiger and Kroos in the midfield ahead of Lahm. The interchange between Ozil and Muller has been a key facet of Germany’s game, and a highlight of international football, over the last four years. With Schurrle hugging the left touchline, Ozil frequently moved between the centre and the right of the pitch, receiving passes from Lahm and becoming one of the game’s key players. Nobody on the German side was moving with as much fluidity between the narrow lines of the Argentinian’s tight defense. This encouraged Muller also to wander on occasion, making a serious threat to the Argentine defense line.
During the extra-time, Argentina were offering very little upfront and speculated that many of the players might be thinking about penalties already. The players entered the final ten minutes of extra time, as penalties looked increasingly likely, Germany scored. Failing to extend their play, but it was unsurprising that Gotze’s fresh legs ultimately proved the difference. Crosses having been delivered from the right for so much of the game, the goal came thanks to a delivery from the left, as Schurrle crossed to Gotze who, to the left of the six-yard box, showed exceptional ability and composure, controlling with his chest before volleying with his left foot over Romero and into the back of the net.
Argentina fought to find a way back into the game but failed to score the decisive equalizer as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi, left in sorrow after the final whistle. On the other side, after coming so close but falling short at each tournament since 2006, Germany’s triumph vindicated Low’s management, and with a winning mentality, the youth of their attackers, and players including Marco Reus and Julian Draxler came into the side, the success was widely seen as the beginning rather than the end of an exciting process.
Netherlands–2010 World Cup
Route to Final:
Denmark, Japan, Cameroon, Slovakia, Brazil, and Uruguay
The next entry in our list of the
greatest World Cup runner-ups in history
is the fearsome 2010 Netherlands national team, who won all their seven matches through their route to the finals of the tournament in the regular time only to be upset by the best generation in the history of Spanish football in the extra time of the finals, where they suffered a 1-0 defeat.
The Netherlands entered the World Cup having won all eight matches in their qualifying campaign and continued their winning run by Group G victories over Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon. Having some great names by their side, such as Mark van Bommel, Nigel de Jong, Arjen Robben,Wesley Sneijder
, Dirk Kuyt, and Robin van Persie, they continued the winning strike further through the knockout stage with 2-1 victories over Slovakia and Brazil before a 3-2 semi-final win against Uruguay.
However, they couldn’t get past Spain’s tiki-taka in the finals in a violent match that saw 14 yellow cards and a red card coming out of Howard Webb’s pocket. It was a physical game, and neither side was able to produce any golden opportunities. Spain got a big break in the 109th minute when John Heitinga collected his second yellow card for an attack on Iniesta. With just 10 minutes remaining, Spain pushed on in pursuit of a win. However, the Dutch, on the other hand, resisted, and the game seemed to be heading to penalties. Spain launched an attack with four minutes remaining. The ball was passed to Fernando Torres, who attempted to cross it to Iniesta. Iniesta was offsides, but fortunately for him, the ball did not go through, and the game proceeded. Cesc Fabregas received the ball, and Iniesta took a few steps back to regain possession. Iniesta snatched the ball from the air and sped past Maarten Stekelenburg to score the match's winner for Spain, winning the first World Cup title for Spain in their history. On the other side, for the Netherlands, it was the third time they reached the final, without winning any.
France–2006 World Cup
Route to Final:
Switzerland, South Korea, Togo, Spain, Brazil, and Portugal
The 2006 World Cup was the 18th edition of the World Cup and it was hosted by Germany. France and Italy managed to reach the finals by beating Germany and Portugal in the semi-finals of the tournament. France was drawn in Group G alongside Switzerland, South Korea, and Togo. France qualified as the runner-ups behind Switzerland, getting two draws against South Korea and Switzerland before securing a 2-0 victory over Togo.
In the round of 16, on 27 June, France took on Spain in a match in which Spain took the lead with a penalty kick converted by David Villa. Franck Ribéry equalized the score four minutes before the half-time whistle, Viera scored a header seven minutes before the end of the game before Zinedine Zidane scored from a solo effort in stoppage time. In the quarter-final against Brazil France won with a lone goal in the 57th minute by Thierry Henry after he volleyed a Zidane free-kick over the reigning World Cup champions. In the semi-final which the Zidane-led France faced Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, rance won again with a lone goal, this time from a first-half Zidane penalty kick.
The final match took place between Italy and France in the Olympiastadion, Berlin, with 69,000 attendants in the stadium.
The match started very excitingly as both teams scored in the first 20 minutes of the game. Seven minutes after the start of the match, France was awarded a penalty kick, and Zinedine Zidane managed to make this opportunity into a goal. Italy succeeded in equalizing the game when Marco Materazzi scored in the 19th minute with a header.
The first half ended and in the second half, although France was largely in control, neither side managed to score. The game went on to extra time and in the 110th minute of the game, one of the most controversial incidents in football occrued. Zidane head-butted Materazzi's chest after he provoked him by pulling at Zidane's jersey. Zidane was sent off, the extra time was finished and Italy managed to win in the penalty shoot-out when David Trezeguet fired his penalty and all the Italian penalty takers scored theirs.
Brazil–1998 World Cup
Route to Final:
Scotland, Morocco, Norway, Chile, Denmark, and Netherlands
The 1998 World Cup had a lot of good things to offer to football fans, but the final match of the tournament is among the most controversial games in the World Cup history, where a favorite Brazil side seemingly gave away the game for political reasons to the host in a World Cup held in France.
Brazil were in Group A at the World Cup, in which they were joined by Morocco, Norway, and Scotland. With victories over Scotland and Morroco and a 2-1 defeat to Norway, the Brazilians qualified to the knockout stage as the leaders of the group. Brazil's opponents in the round of 16 were Chile. At the beginning of the match, Brazil took the lead on 11 minutes when a Dunga free-kick was met by Sampaio. Sampaio doubled Brazil's lead on the 27th minute when he shot into the corner of the net following a long-range Roberto Carlos free-kick. Ronaldo added a third from a penalty in the first-half injury time. Another goal from Ronaldo sealed Brazilians a 4-1 victory over Chile as they proceeded to face Denmark in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Denmark scored the first goal two minutes into the game through Martin Jørgensen, before Bebeto equalized eight minutes later. Brazil then took the lead with a goal by Rivaldo on the 27th minute. Brian Laudrup leveled the scores five minutes into the second half, but Rivaldo scored again thirty minutes before the end to seal a 3–2 win for Brazil.
For the semi-final round, Brazil faced Netherlands, where Ronaldo gave Brazil the lead shortly after half-time before Patrick Kluivert equalized for the Netherlands three minutes before the end of their tie. The game went to extra time with the golden goal rule in effect. However, the game proceeded to the penalty shootout. The first five penalties were all scored, giving them a 3–2 lead. Brazilian goalkeeper Cláudio Taffarel then saved penalties from Phillip Cocu and Ronald de Boer with Dunga scoring again for Brazil, which meant Brazil won the shoot-out 4–2 and progressed to the final.
Described as the "great World Cup final mystery", Ronaldo was omitted from the official teamsheet which Zagallo presented to FIFA. However, the team submitted a modified teamsheet with Ronaldo's name reinstated later on. It was revealed several years later that Ronaldo had suffered a convulsive fit on the afternoon of the match, had lost consciousness, and spent three hours in the hospital, but decided shortly before the match began that he still wished to play.
Sadly for Brazil however, France enjoyed an easy 3-0 victory in the finals, provided by two goals fromZinedine Zidane
and another from Emmanuel Petit, in a match that the Brazilian side didn’t seem to have any ambition to win.
Italy–1994 World Cup
Route to Final:
Republic of Ireland, Norway, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, and Bulgaria
Next on our article about the
top World Cup runner-ups in history
had a bitter start to the 1994 World Cup with a 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland, and although they fought their way magically to the final, they had an even more bitter ending to the tournament. This was the last World Cup featuring 24 nations and the last in which third-placed teams were still able to progress to the round of 16.
Led by legendary Arrigo Sacchi, Italy proceeded to the knockout stage of the tournament as the third team of the Group E of the tournament, which to the date remains the only group in World Cup history in which all four teams finished with the same points and same goal difference, making complete chaos.
It began at Giants Stadium where Ray Houghton's chip ensured a shock Irish victory over the then three-time champions Italy with a 1–0 result. The next day in Washington, Norway played its first World Cup game since 1938 and Kjetil Rekdal's goal five minutes from time proved decisive in an equally tense encounter as Norway beat Mexico. However, Italy regained hope as they beat Norway 1-0 in the second round of the group games.
A day before Ireland’s 2-1 defeat to Mexico in mad weather, Italy's World Cup hopes seemed to be diminishing fast as goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca was sent off with the game still at 0–0. Yet despite this, Italy was still able to salvage an important 1–0 victory. Norway would ultimately pay a price for their inability to take advantage of Pagliuca's dismissal. With the four teams' level on points, the final two group games would each have to finish as draws for things to stay that way. The Republic of Ireland made it through after a dreary 0–0 draw with Norway; midfielders Massaro and Bernal traded strikes as Italy and Mexico played to a 1–1 draw.
As a result, Mexico won the group on goals scored, three goals in three games. Ireland and Italy also progressed with identical records, with the Irish team qualified as second place as a result of their victory against the Italians.
During the Round-of-16 game against Nigeria, Italy was trailing 1–0 in the dying minutes whenBaggio
scored the tying goal, forcing the game into extra time. He scored again with a penalty kick to send Italy through. Baggio carried the Italians from there, scoring the game-winning goal in the quarter-final against Spain, and both goals in Italy's semi-final victory over Bulgaria.
The final game at the Rose Bowl was tense but devoid of scoring chances. It was the second time in 24 years that the two nations had met in a final. After 120 goalless minutes, the World Cup was decided for the first time by a penalty shoot-out. This was the first time for the World Cup to be decided on penalties. Italian captain Baresi took the first penalty and blazed his penalty over the bar. Brazilian center back Marcio Santos went next, but Pagliuca saved the Brazilian defender's effort low to his right. Demetrio Albertini went next for Italy, scoring his penalty into the top corner. Romário was next for Brazil, and he scored his penalty, placing it so far in the corner that it went in off the post, tying the score at 1–1. Alberigo Evani went third for Italy, he scored, putting his penalty high and in the middle, as Taffarel dove to the right. Then Branco scored for Brazil and scored in the bottom left corner. Massaro, who had scored twice in the Champions League Final less than two months previously, went next for Italy, but he was unable to put the ball in Taffarel's net just as he had been unable to do in the match, as the Brazilian keeper saved to his left. Brazilian captain Dunga was next, and he comfortably placed his shot into the bottom left corner, making it match point. With Italy needing to score to keep their dreams alive, talisman Baggio stepped up to take the penalty and made the iconic moment of the World Cup. Baggio, like Baresi, blazed his penalty over the bar and this gave Brazil their fourth title.
Netherlands–1974b World Cup
Route to Final:
Uruguay, Sweden, Bulgaria, Argentina, East Germany, and Brazil
Now it is time to talk about the most deserved team which did all required to win the title, but failed in the final step: Johan Cryuff’s famous 1974 Netherlands. This was the first time that the current trophy, the FIFA World Cup Trophy, created by the Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga, was awarded. The previous trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, was won for the third time by Brazil in 1970 and was awarded permanently to the Brazilians.
It was the first time that the Netherlands and Poland were qualified since 1938. The Netherlands demonstrated the "Total football" techniques pioneered by the top Dutch club Ajax, in which specialized positions were virtually abolished for the outfield players, and individual players became defenders, midfielders, or strikers as the situation required. The Dutch marked their first World Cup finals since 1938 by topping their first-round group, with wins over Uruguay and Bulgaria and a draw with Sweden.
Holland continued dominating through the second group round. Coincidentally, the two second-round groups both produced matches that were in effect, semi-finals. In Group A, two goals from the inspirational Johan Cruyff helped the Dutch side thrash Argentina 4–0. The Dutch triumphed over East Germany 2–0 before the crucial match between the Netherlands and Brazil. With the match also being remembered for harsh defending on both sides, second-half goals from Johan Neeskens and Cruyff put the Netherlands in the final and showcased another triumph for 'total football'.
The final match took place between the host, West Germany, and the Netherlands on 7 July 1974 in Olympiastadion, Munich. The number of attendants for that match was about 75,200. After only two minutes from the start, the English referee Jack Taylor awarded the Dutch a penalty afterJohan Cruyff
was brought down by Uli Hoeneß in the penalty area. The Dutch managed to take the lead after an ensuring penalty by Johan Neeskens. However, Germans had a controversial penalty in the 25th-minute after Bernd Hölzenbein was seemingly fouled within the Dutch penalty area. In a chaotic first half that saw two penalties, West Germany now pushed for a winner, which eventually came in the 43rd-minute through Gerd Müller, scoring his last ever international goal, securing the title for Germans as the second-half remained goalless with chances for both sides.
FIFA President from 1974 to 1998, João Havelange, made a controversial claim later that the 1966 and 1974 World Cups were fixed so that England and West Germany would win respectively, and then-West Germany player, Berti Vogts, declared in 1997 that the penalty awarded to West Germany was unjustified. Anyhow, the match became the start of a long rivalry between Germany and the Netherlands in football.
And that was all on our article about the top World Cup runner-ups in history.
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