So far the 2014 World Cup has been the gift that keeps on giving. The lull in end-to-end action that was predicted to coincide with the group games ending has, so far, not materialised. And as this article seeks to illustrate, the quarter-final round of a World Cup can provide some of the best action of the tournament.
Hungary 4 – 2 Brazil, Berne, 1954
The revolutionary Hungarian side of the 1950s can rightly take its place along side that of 1930s Austria and 1970s Holland as one of the best sides never to win the World Cup. When their tactical intelligence met Brazilian attacking flair sparks flew in the driving rain. Three were sent off as the match descended into a pitched battle which continued in the dressing rooms after the final whistle had blown.
England 1 – 0 Argentina, London, 1966
In England this game is vaguely remembered for manager Alf Ramsey preventing his players to swap shirts with their ‘animal-like’ counterparts at the final whistle. In Argentina the games is known as el robo del siglo – the theft of the century. Whilst this game was light on goals, it was surfeit in controversy – the sending-off of captain Antonio Rattín still sticks in the craw of most Argentinians, some of whom suggest a FIFA lead conspiracy.
Brazil 2 – 3 Italy, Barcelona, 1982
While not technically a quarter-final – the 1982 tournament followed the trend of having two group stages which has now mercifully been discarded – this game was for all intents and purposes as straight battle for progression to the semi-final. The supremely talented Brazil side would be the last truly attacking Seleção, whilst Paolo Rossi – who had yet to score up to that point – wrote himself into World Cup folklore.
Bulgaria 2 – 1 Germany, New Jersey, 1994
Dark horses, surprise packages, whatever your preferred moniker its hard not to love the Bulgarian team of USA ’94. Not many would have given them a chance once Lothar Matthäus had given the reigning World champions the lead, least of all the Germans themselves. A textbook Stoichkov free-kick levelled the score, and a mere three minutes later, a diving Letchkov stunned the Germans and the world.
Uruguay 1 – 1 Ghana, Johannesburg, 2010
Pele’s prediction that an African team would win the World Cup before the end of the last century has hung around the neck of every team from the continent. Ghana’s ‘blackstars’ came within a hands breadth of being the first African nation to reach a semi-final. The owner of the hand would find a fresh helping of controversy in this years tournament.
Have i missed out your favourite World Cup quarter final? Let us know in the comments section.