The Best World Cup Finals in FIFA History


The world’s biggest sporting tournament delivered in its grand finale.

In the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final in Qatar, Argentina and France played one of the most thrilling football matches in the quadrennial tournament’s history, let alone the sport itself.

After Argentina took a 2-0 lead going into the half, France responded with two goals in a two-minute span from 23-year-old star Kylian Mbappe.

Lionel Messi and Mbappe exchanged goals once more in extra time before La Albiceleste emerged victorious in a penalty shootout, which had many wondering — was this the best World Cup Final of all time?

Recency bias aside, it’s difficult to argue otherwise. Including 2022, let’s reminisce the five best World Cup Finals in FIFA history, in no particular order:

2022: Argentina 3 – France 3 (4-2 penalties)

It didn’t seem like a game headed towards this moment through 80 minutes, until Mbappe came alive to show the world he’s next up in football.

He erased Messi and Di Maria’s first-half goals in just two minutes, with his second on a volley being one of the goal-of-the-tournament contenders.

The drama only intensified with several thrilling moments in extra time until it was decided in a penalty shootout, the fifth of Qatar. In the end, Emiliano Martinez proved decisive between the sticks yet again to cap off arguably one of the best football games ever, World Cup or not.

2006: Italy 1 – France 1 (5-3 penalties)

If it wasn’t for 2022, then the 2006 final in Germany would definitely be up there.

The two goals in regulation and extra time came early. Zinedine Zidane got Les Bleus up in the seventh minute via a penalty before Marco Materazzi equalized in the 19th minute for Italy.

But Zidane was not remembered for his goal — rather, it was his headbutt in extra time on Materazzi that was stamped into the history books, and he was sent off with a red card.

Italy then went on to beat France 5-3 in another riveting penalty shootout.

1986: Argentina 3 – West Germany 2

Estadio Azteca in Mexico hosted an enthralling final in 1986, with La Albiceleste getting the win late in regulation.

West Germany had to come from behind down 2-0. First, Jose Luis Brown scored in the 23rd minute for Argentina before Jorge Valdano doubled the lead in the 55th minute.

It wasn’t until the 74th minute when Karl-Heinz Rummenigge gave West Germany hope before Rudolf Voller netted the equalizer in the 80th minute.

But Argentina halted any hope just three minutes later when Jorge Luis Burruchaga found the winner.

1966: England 4 – West Germany 2 (ET)

The only time it came home for England was a memorable one as the hosts.

The Three Lions and West Germany played to a tight 2-2 game that needed extra time after Wolfgang Weber equalized in the 89th minute for West Germany.

Unfortunately for West Germany, it couldn’t capitalize on the momentum after Weber’s finish. Geoffrey Hurst sealed a hat trick with goals in the 101st and 120th minutes to seal the deal for England. Hurst scored the game’s second goal in the 18th minute.

1950: Uruguay 2 – Brazil 1

Imagine beating the host country in its own stadium in front of 173,850 people in one of the biggest cities the nation has to offer.

Well, Uruguay did just that in 1950 when it topped Brazil, its South American rivals, in the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil took the lead in the 47th minute thanks to Friaca, but the next two goals went to Uruguay. Juan Schiaffino equalized in the 66th minute before Alcides Ghiggia scored the winner in the 79th minute.

Will 2026, co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, have something special in store? We have a long wait ahead of us to find out.

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