After a month of soccer, the 2022 FIFA World Cup came to an end. Luckily for those who watched it, the World Cup Final could go down as one of the greatest games in the history of sports. Lionel Messi and Argentina ended up defeating Kylian Mbappé and France in a penalty shootout after tying 3-3 in extra time.
ARGENTINA TAKES IT IN PKs!
MESSI IS A FIFA WORLD CUP CHAMPION 🐐 pic.twitter.com/Ox99GKu5Ny
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 18, 2022
In a battle that needed more than 90 minutes to be decided, fans saw the best of the best playing each other. Messi scored a brace as he broke the World Cup record of games played with 26 while Mbappé scored just the second hat-trick in World Cup finals history.
The thrilling 2022 Argentina-France matchup will certainly be remembered for ages to come. Still, there are other games that deserve some special attention. Here are the top five best World Cup finals ever.
5. 1970, Brasil 4-1 Italy
Differently from the other finals on this list, the 1970 final was not exactly a close one. Brazil concluded its campaign with a convincing 4-1 victory over Italy at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Pelé, Gérson, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto scored for the Seleção, and Roberto Boninsegna scored Italy’s lone goal.
That year, the South Americans won all of its six games in the World Cup, the second-best mark just behind their own 2002 winning tournament (seven victories in seven games).
The biggest reason why this final is special is because of what it represented for Brazil and soccer in general. After winning back-to-back titles in 1958 and 1962, Brazil had one of its worst campaigns in 1966, failing to advance past the group stage. With a lot of pressure, Brazil had perhaps one of the greatest performances by a team in a World Cup final.
This is seen by many Brazilians as the best team the nation ever had. This was also soccer legend Pelé’s last match in a World Cup, cementing his name as the only player to ever win three tournaments.
4. 1950, Uruguay 2-1 Brazil
Playing at home in 1950, many saw Brazil as the heavy favorite to win its first-ever tournament. As the first World Cup post World War II, it represented a return to normalcy in sports.
Although the 1950 World Cup did not have an official final matchup since the final round was a group stage, the top two teams coincidentally faced each other on the final day. Brazil only needed a simple draw to get the trophy and even scored first with Friaça. However, Uruguay bounced back with Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia finding the back of the net.
Played in front of 173,850 people at the Maracanã Stadium, the most highly attended soccer match ever played, this remains one of the biggest upsets in soccer history.
3. 1954, West Germany 3-2 Hungary
The matchup between West Germany and Hungary went beyond the field. Following WWII, this had more than soccer in its background. Also, Hungary had its “Golden Team,” which only lost one contest out of 69 games between 1950 and 1956.
In the game, the Hungarians opened a 2-0 lead in just eight minutes played with goals by legend Ferenc Puskás and Zoltán Czibor. Ten minutes later, the scoreboard was already 2-2 thanks to goals by Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn. In the 84th minute, Rahn would score the game-winning goal and give West Germany its first World Cup title.
The game is so memorable that fans often call it the “Miracle of Bern,” a reference to the Swiss city where they played.
2. 1966, England 4-2 West Germany
Perhaps the most controversial World Cup final ever, host England defeated West Germany 4-2 at Wembley Stadium. This is England’s only World Cup title out of 16 participations.
As the English led 2-1, West Germany found an equalizer in the 89th minute, sending it to extra time. Then, England scored a third goal in the 101st minute with Geoff Hurst. However, the ball did not fully pass over the line. This is up until this day one of the most controversial calls in soccer history. As the Germans were desperate to find a goal, England scored a fourth and sealed the deal.
With Hurst’s three goals, this was the first time a player scored a hat trick in a World Cup final.
1. 2022, Argentina 3-3 France (extra time), Argentina wins 4-2 in a penalty shootout
Even though it is the most recent one, it is difficult to ignore the 2022 final. Up until the 79th minute, it seemed like a solid 2-0 win by Argentina. However, Mbappé scored twice in less than two minutes. Then, Argentina scored with Messi once again in extra time, only to see Mbappé score his third goal in the game minutes later. The South Americans would end up winning 4-2 in a penalty shootout.
Not only it was an exciting game, but it had so many stories behind it. Mbappé is only the second player to have a hat trick in a World Cup final (Geoff Hurst, 1966) and is now the leading scorer in finals (four total). Most notably, Messi finally won a World Cup trophy, the only major tournament missing in his illustrious career.
The thrilling finish and Messi’s crowning as a world champion make the 2022 final the best among all 22 FIFA World Cups.