XtraTime Web Desk: The clashing of continents is undeniably a key element of the FIFA World Cup’s appeal. But while Europe has dominated Russia 2018, leaving France and Croatia to do battle in Sunday’s Final, that need not be a cause for disappointment.
Let’s reflect on all the “All-European Finals” which have served up some of the most memorable encounters in the tournament’s long and illustrious history.
1934: Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia
Extra time was required to crown Europe’s first world champions, with Angelo Schiavio striking to secure the Trophy for Italy on home soil. Gli Azzurri had to come from behind to make history, with Antonin Puc’s 71st-minute opener for Czechoslovakia having been cancelled out eight minutes from time by Raimundo Orsi.
The 1934 decider is the only World Cup Final to have involved two goalkeepers as captains. Giampiero Combi and Frantisek Planicka skippered Italy and Czechoslovakia respectively.
1938: Italy 4-2 Hungary
Gino Colaussi and Silvio Piola scored a brace apiece as the Italians retained the Trophy in Paris, establishing Vittorio Pozzo as the only coach to win two World Cup titles.
Italy’s class of 1938 are the only team to have won the World Cup without keeping a single clean sheet en route. Gli Azzuri beat Norway 2-1, France 3-1, Brazil 2-1 and Hungary 4-2.
1954: West Germany 3-2 Hungary
‘The Miracle of Bern’ is enshrined in German football folklore. Hungary’s seemingly unstoppable Magical Magyars had thrashed the West Germans 8-3 earlier in the tournament, and raced into a 2-0 lead inside eight minutes of the Final. But goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn sealed a remarkable comeback.
This Final defeat ended Hungary’s world record 30-match unbeaten run, which had stretched back four years. That benchmark stood until 1993, when it was surpassed by Argentina.
1966: England 4-2 West Germany
Another memorable Final brought England’s first and, to date, only world title, with a Geoff Hurst hat-trick – a Final feat still unique to the Three Lions legend – sealing victory in extra time.
England’s Bobby and Jack Charlton are one of just two sets of siblings to win the World Cup, the others being West Germany’s Fritz and Ottmar Walter in 1954.
1974: Netherlands 1-2 West Germany
As in 1954, the Germans needed all their reserves of steel and spirit to come from an early goal down against the heavy pre-Final favourites. A Paul Breitner penalty and a typically opportunist strike from the irrepressible Gerd Muller broke the hearts of Cruyff & Co.
Muller’s winner was one of 14 World Cup goals he scored – not one of which came from outside the penalty area. This haul included seven inside the six-yard box, which remains a tournament record.
1982: Italy 3-1 West Germany
Having failed to win a single match during the group phase, Italy hit their stride in the knockout rounds and clinched a thrilling victory in Madrid. Paolo Rossi opened the scoring before Marco Tardelli, with a wildly celebrated second, and Alessandro Altobelli made sure of Gli Azzurri’s third title.
Italy’s team in this match contained 40-year-old Dino Zoff and 18-year-old Giuseppe Bergomi, respectively the oldest and second-youngest players to appear in a World Cup Final.
2006: Italy 1-1 France( Italy winners 5-3 on penalties)
Zinedine Zidane’s Panenka opener and Marco Materazzi’s headed equaliser preceded a dramatic conclusion, with Zizou famously sent off before Italy won their fourth title on penalties.
By scoring in the Final, Materazzi ended the tournament as Italy’s joint-top scorer with Luca Toni on two goals apiece. No other team has won the World Cup without at least one of their players scoring three times or more.
2010: Netherlands 0-1 Spain
A tense and bruising finale, which included a record 14 yellow cards, was illuminated in extra time when Andres Iniesta fired home to secure Spain’s first-ever world title.
La Roja became the first and only team in World Cup history to lose their opening match and go on to lift the Trophy.