Ten great matches

World Cup is known for the excitement and the passion it generates world over. Here are some of the CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS that reinforce the tournament's status as the biggest sporting event on the planet.

1938 First Round: Brazil 6 Poland 5

Brazil were well-equipped to become the first side to win the World Cup on the `other' continent when they arrived in France, with Leonidas the brightest star at the competition. He grabbed the first of 11 goals in an incredible match in Strasbourg's Meinau Stadium. The game finished 4-4 after 90 minutes and by the end of the added period Leonidas had scored a hat-trick and team-mate Peracio had two. Poor Ernest Wilimowski had hit four, but Poland were out of the tournament.

As for Brazil, they decided to rest Leonidas for their semifinal against Italy in readiness for the final. But the South Americans never made it and in pre-substitute days the star striker looked on as his team lost 2-1.

1954 Final: West Germany 3 Hungary 2

A Ferenc Puskas-inspired Hungary had hammered the Germans 8-3 in the first phase and were expected to waltz to World Cup glory in Berne.

Puskas suffered an ankle injury in his side's quarterfinal victory over Brazil and looked far short of fitness, but nevertheless another drubbing looked on the cards as the Magic Magyars raced into a 2-0 lead inside eight minutes. Ten minutes later though Germany were back on level terms thanks to goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn, and the latter scored the winner six minutes from time to seal one of the World Cup's great shocks.

1966 Final: England 4 West Germany 2

England's finest two hours in football got off to an inauspicious start when a poor Ray Wilson header put a chance on a plate for Helmut Haller. The hosts roared back with a Geoff Hurst header and a scrambled Martin Peters goal and were seconds from glory when a free-kick caused confusion in the box and Wolfgang Weber equalised. "You've beaten them once, go out and beat them again," Sir Alf Ramsey told his players, and inspired by the tireless running of Alan Ball England scored twice more. Hurst's first effort has been the source of controversy ever since over whether his shot crossed the line after bouncing down off the underside of the crossbar, while his second, late in the added period, was defined by Kenneth Wolstenholme's immortal commentary: "Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over. It is now."

1970 First Round Group Match: Brazil 1 England 0 (at ET)

The reigning champions came up against a Brazil side poised for greatness in a titanic struggle played out in intense heat in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Both sides had excellent chances — Jeff Astle missing a glorious opening for England, while it took one of the greatest saves of all time from Gordon Banks to claw out Pele's powerful downward header. A patient move climaxed with Jairzinho scoring the only goal, and the famous photograph of Pele and Bobby Moore swapping shirts at the end encapsulated the mutual respect between the teams.

1970 Semifinals: Italy 4 West Germany 3 (at ET)

West Germany gained revenge on England by coming from two down to beat them 3-2 in the quarterfinals, but this last-four clash looked set to be a routine win for Italy thanks to Roberto Boninsegna's early goal. However, a 90th-minute strike from Karl-Heinz Schnellinger took the match to extra-time. Suddenly the game burst to life as Gerd Muller edged the Germans ahead but by half-time of the added period Italy were 3-2 in front thanks to Tarcisio Burgnich and Gigi Riva. Muller drew his side level again in the 110th minute, as Franz Beckenbauer battled on with a broken collarbone and the momentum was with Germany again. However, Gianni Rivera had other ideas and side-footed what proved to be the winner seconds later.

1970 Final: Brazil 4 Italy 1

Probably the best final match in World Cup history, featuring a Brazilian side at the peak of their powers. Pele rose to head them in front before some generous defending allowed Roberto Boninsegna to equalise for the Azzurri. From that point on though it was all Brazil. Gerson blasted in from long range to make it 2-1, Jairzinho kept up his record of scoring in every match in the finals despite making a hash of his finish, but the best was saved until last.

A sweeping team move culminated in an effortlessly brilliant pass from Pele, weighted perfectly into the run of right-back Carlos Alberto who cracked in a low shot.

1982 Second Group Phase: Italy 3 Brazil 2

Italy had made a sluggish start to their campaign and reached the second group stage with three first-round draws, but Paolo Rossi inspired them to this famous victory. His first came when the Brazilian defence failed to track him at a set-piece, but the South Americans hit back swiftly when Socrates slotted a shot past Dino Zoff in Italy's goal.

A poor pass from Toninho Cerezo gave Rossi an easy chance for his second, but Brazil showed backbone as Falcao blasted in a second equaliser from outside the box. But Rossi — back in the side after serving a ban for his part in a betting scandal — would not be denied and swivelled to add the decisive touch to a Marco Tardelli shot.

1982 Semifinals: West Germany 3 France 3 (at ET; West Germany won 5-4 on penalties)

A World Cup classic, which became the first match in the competition to be settled by a penalty shoot-out. France provided most of the early excitement but fell behind to Pierre Littbarski's volley. A foul on Dominique Rocheteau in the box allowed Michel Platini to level the scores in the 26th minute. The second half featured no more goals but did include one of the World Cup's most notorious acts of thuggery as West Germany's goalkeeper Harald `Toni' Schumacher clattered into the advancing Patrick Battiston, shattering the French substitute's vertebrae. Dutch referee Charles Corver did not even award the incensed French a free-kick, let alone book or send off Schumacher. Marius Tresor crashed in France's second goal two minutes into extra-time and the game looked to have been settled when Alain Giresse struck from the edge of the penalty area. But the Germans' renowned powers of recovery were in evidence again as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled one back before half-time of the extra period. Klaus Fischer's overhead kick forced penalties, and Jupp Derwall's men were spot-on as Schumacher — lucky to still be on the pitch — made the decisive save from Didier Six.

1986 Quarterfinals: France 1 Brazil 1 (at ET; France won 4-3 on penalties)

France overcame their 1982 disappointment by winning the 1984 European Championships in style, and their confrontation with Brazil in Mexico was a pulsating contest between two teams loaded with flair players.

Careca blasted in the first goal after a typically smart move but France equalised when a Rocheteau cross from the right eluded both France striker Yannick Stopyra and Brazil goalkeeper Carlos and Michel Platini tapped into an empty net. Substitute Zico had the chance to win it from the penalty spot but his effort was saved by Joel Bats. That miss ultimately resulted in a shoot-out, which despite a miss from the inspirational Platini, France won to set up another semifinal meeting with West Germany.

1994 Second Round: Romania 3 Argentina 2

The introduction of three points for a win meant the 1994 finals were far more exciting in the early stages than the 1990 edition of the tournament in Italy. But arguably the best game of the competition came in the second round in front of over 90,000 fans in the Rose Bowl, Pasadena. Ilie Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Hagi provided Romania's inspiration, the former sealing a move to Tottenham on the strength of his displays at USA `94 which included a brace against the South Americans.

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