Playing at the FIFA World Cup is the dream of every footballer and winning it is the apex of their career, which is why all countries struggle to reach the final and ultimately win the trophy.
The World Cup final is the last match of the competition, and the result determines which country is declared world champions.
If, after 90 minutes of regular play, the score is a draw, an additional 30-minute period of extra time will be added.
Should the game still be tied after extra time, it is then decided by a penalty shoot-out. The team winning the penalty shoot-out are then declared world champions.
In the 21 World Cup tournaments held so far, 79 nations have appeared at least once. Of these, 13 have made it to the final match, and 8 have won.
The FIFA World Cup final is always full of memorable moments. Late winners, stirring comebacks, and instances of controversy have been witnessed in a match that immortalises the victors.
In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG presents you with the top 10 best World Cup finals ranked. Our ranking of the best FIFA World Cup finals is based on what was at stake, the entertainment, and the events of the match.
10. Argentina 0-1 Germany (2014)
The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil final was played in front of 74,738 supporters, as well as over a billion people watching on television.
Tied 0-0 in regular time, the match went to extra time, in the second period of which Germany finally broke the deadlock.
Mario Götze — who had come on as a substitute shortly before the end of normal time — controlled Andre Schürrle’s cross from the left on his chest before volleying a left-footed shot into the net to secure a 1–0 victory for Germany.
Heartbreak for Lionel Messi and his Argentine teammates as they lost the final painfully.
9. Brazil – Germany 2-0 (2002)
Four years after the 1998 final loss, Ronaldo and Brazil went to the 2002 World Cup firing on all cylinders.
The Selecao were at their very best and dismantled every team they came across en route to the final.
The final was against Germany, and Brazil won 2-0, with Ronaldo deservedly scoring both goals. Banishing the memories of the 1998 defeat.
This was one of the best World Cup finals because it served entertaining football and stunning goals.
8. Netherlands – Spain 0-1 (2010)
The first World Cup held in Africa also saw Spain win it for the first time.
The final was against an aggressive Netherlands side and was tied after 90 min.
Extra-time came calling, and the apprehension grew. Spain and Netherlands were going at each other and picking up cards.
Late in the second half of extra-time, Spain took the lead through a powerful goal from Andres Iniesta to break the hearts of the Dutch.
7. Brazil 0-3 France (1998)
France ’98 produced a memorable final, but not entirely for the right reasons.
France had never won the World Cup before and the pressure was certainly on the host nation as they went up against Brazil and their star striker Ronaldo.
It was supposed to be Ronaldo’s final, as he had shone throughout the tournament. But a certain Zinedine Zidane was having none of that and went on to dominate the match.
Before the match, speculation surrounded the fitness of Ronaldo, who was originally left out of Brazil’s starting line-up, only to be restored to the team just before kick-off.
However, the star striker looked a shadow of his usual self throughout the encounter, as did the rest of his teammates — who were clearly affected by what had happened.
France took the lead shortly before the half-hour mark when Zinedine Zidane outjumped Leonardo to connect with a header from an in-swinging corner.
The talismanic Zidane scored again, with another header from a corner, shortly before half-time to give France a 2–0 lead. Petit then added a third goal in second-half injury time to complete a remarkable 3–0 win for France.
6. Italy 1-1 (5-3 pen) France (2006)
The 2006 World Cup final in Germany will not be remembered for football.
While Zinedine Zidane scored a penalty inside the opening stages and Marco Materazzi equalised before 20 minutes had elapsed, both of these players would create a moment of madness towards the end of the game.
Materazzi provoked Zidane by saying unpleasant things about his sister. Angered, Zidane headbutted the notorious Italian to the ground in one of football’s most infamous events.
A red card was subsequently shown to Zidane. Pictures of him walking past the trophy after being sent-off will forever remain iconic.
It was a sad end to what had been a fantastic career for the French playmaker, who retired from football immediately after the World Cup final.
The game went to penalties after both teams remained tied after extra-time. And Italy won the shoot-out.
France’s David Trezeguet — who had scored the golden goal against Italy in the UEFA Euro 2000 final — was the only player not to score his penalty after his kick hit the crossbar.
Fabio Grosso scored the winning penalty as Italy won by a score of 5-3.
5. Argentina 3-2 West Germany (1986)
Diego Maradona’s famous “Hand of god” goal had seen Argentina defeat England in the semi-final to reach the 1986 World Cup final.
The final match attendance was 114,600, and it was one of the most dramatic World Cup finals ever.
Argentina dominated proceedings early on to take a 2-0 lead, but Germany incredibly fought back to tie the game 2-2.
A moment of inspiration from Maradona emerged in the 83rd minute when the ball came to his foot near the midfield.
He made what many believed to be the best pass in history to assist Jorge Burruchaga — who brilliantly poked home the winner.
4. England 4-2 West Germany (1966)
Perhaps the most controversial World Cup final of all-time, and arguably the greatest as it had a piece of just about everything, making it one of the best World Cup finals.
There were plenty of goals, Germany scored with the last touch in normal time, and there was controversy over whether England’s third — and ultimately winning — goal crossed the line or not.
To this day, there has been no compelling evidence to determine that. And England’s home win over West Germany is still debated across both nations.
Hurst became the first and only player to score a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup final.
3. West Germany 3-2 Hungary (1954)
Four years after Uruguay’s spectacular win, West Germany also created an upset against Hungary.
The 1954 FIFA World Cup final was the 5th in history. The game was played at the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, Switzerland, on the 4th of July, 1954.
It saw West Germany beat the extremely talented golden generation of Hungary 3–2, in what was regarded as one of the greatest matches in World Cup history and also one of its most unexpected upsets.
Beyond football, some historians ascribe the match had a lasting impact on both German and Hungarian post-World War II history.
Unbeaten in four years before the World Cup, early goals from Ferenc Puskas and Zoltan Czibor propelled Hungary to an expected 2-0 lead.
Germany drew level before 20 minutes elapsed, as goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn rocked the Hungarians’ confidence.
Rahn netted a dramatic winner six minutes from time with a goal that would hold far more than sporting importance for the divided nation.
In Germany, the 1954 final is referred to as Wunder von Bern (“the Miracle of Bern”).
2. Brazil 5-2 Sweden (1958)
According to Pelé, Brazil’s 1958 World Cup-winning team was the most talented the nation has ever produced.
The final was between Brazil and hosts, Sweden.
Sweden took the lead after only 4 minutes after an excellent finish by captain Nils Liedholm. The lead did not last long, however, as Vavá equalised just 5 minutes later.
On 32 minutes, Vavá scored another goal to give Brazil a 2–1 lead at the break. 10 minutes into the second half, Brazil went further in front thanks to a brilliant goal scored by a 17-year-old Pelé.
In the second half, Brazil went 4-1 up with a goal scored by Mário Zagallo. Simonsson pulled one back for Sweden with 10 minutes remaining, but it was far too late.
Pelé sealed the 5–2 victory for Brazil with a headed goal in stoppage time.
The records for both the youngest and oldest goalscorer in a World Cup final were set in this match; by Pelé (17 years and 249 days) and Nils Liedholm (35 years, 263 days), respectively.
In addition, The 1958 World Cup final also holds the record for most goals scored in a World Cup final match.
1. Uruguay 2-1 Brazil (1950)
A match that will be famously known as the “Maracanazo” because it took place at Brazil’s Maracana Stadium. It is undoubtedly the best World Cup final of all time.
Anything but a loss would be accepted by the Brazilian people, who were already looking forward to seeing their team crowned as world champions on home soil.
A record crowd of 210,000 packed into the stadium for an encounter that was expected to be nothing but a Brazilian victory. In fact, the official spectator count was 173,850 people and possibly by over 200,000, the Maracanazo holds the record for the most highly-attended football match ever played.
Brazilian fans celebrated before the match, singing songs of victory. A local newspaper even congratulated the team for their triumph before kickoff.
This irked Uruguay captain Obdulio Varela, who bought as many copies of the paper as he could and told his team to urinate on them.
Brazil got into an early mood of victory when they went ahead after 46 minutes. Amazingly, Uruguay fought back to equalise and then scored the winner.
Uruguay stunned Maracana in what will be remembered as one of football’s greatest upsets.
After the game, some Brazilian fans committed suicide right inside the stadium, and numerous suicide cases were recorded across the country — in what was one of the darkest hours in Brazil’s history as a nation.
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