Seven World Cup matches we would love to see replayed

The Rio Report

View gallery


Every nation that has played at the World Cup has experienced frustration, suffered broken hearts and tasted the bitterness of defeat during the long history of the tournament.


Here, we highlight seven teams who have suffered latter-stage heart-ache and would no doubt love to replay those fateful games - and have the chance to change the course of a painful history.


England 1-1 West Germany (aet) (West Germany won 4-3 on penalties), semi-final 1990

England, seemingly more than most, have suffered major tournament disappointments that not only pull at, but vigorously yank the heart strings. Whether that is the sad truth or just an illusion borne out of the high expectations forced upon the national side is open to debate, but it is a fair assumption to make that the majority of England fans would jump at the opportunity to 'correct' a number of perceived World Cup 'wrongs'.

Argentina in the quarter-finals in 1986 - Diego Maradona's Hand of God game - for one example. And Argentina again in the last 16 in '98 - David Beckham's darkest hour - for another. Or how about the quarter-final against Germany in 1970? Or David Seaman's backpeddling, pony-tail flapping error of judgement in the defeat to Brazil in 2002, England having led 1-0 at the break? All moments in time best erased from English memories.


But 1990 provided arguably the most heart-wrenching defeat, against West Germany in Turin. In the only tournament since 1966 that England had progressed past the quarter-finals, Bobby Robson's side went close, very close, but eventually, after Gazza's tears and Pearce and Waddles' misses from 12 yards, the Germans won. As they always do, Gary Lineker later said. And England have never been as close to a World Cup final since.


France 3-3 West Germany (aet) (West Germany won 5-4 on penalties), semi-final 1982

If there were one match France could replay, it would surely be the 1982 semi-final, for a number of reasons. The game in Seville was a World Cup classic, packed with goals, drama and incident, but Les Bleus ultimately emerged on the losing side following the first penalty shoot-out in World Cup history. Unlucky France became the first nation to feel that singular pain of being eliminated by the lottery of spot-kicks; that alone is reason enough to want to revisit the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán and attempt to rewrite the history books.

But Les Bleus would be forgiven if they harboured another, perhaps more personal, motive to wanting to meet that German side again: revenge against Harald Schumacher. The goalkeeper's horror challenge on Patrick Battiston not only denied the Frenchman a better chance of scoring - and taking his side through in normal time - but the assault also left Battiston unconscious and with serious injuries.


Schumacher didn't help himself in the popularity stakes with his comments immediately after the game, but at the time, he got away with it, and although France took a 3-1 lead in the additional period, West Germany roared back with two goals to break French hearts and send the tie to that fateful penalty shoot-out.

View gallery



Brazil 2-3 Italy, second round group stage, 1982

Even the most successful nation in World Cup history has not been immune to its share of heartache; all-conquering Brazil suffered a dose of disappointment at the same tournament as France, only the Selecao's exit came earlier and was more shocking than that of Les Bleus. Billed as pre-tournament favourites, the great Brazil team of Socrates, Junior, Zico and Falcao, revered throughout the world for their flair and attacking play, had won their four previous matches in Spain while Italy, a more modest side in terms of skill, had only really impressed once, in their previous victory over Argentina.


Yet the tables were turned in the final second group stage match in Barcelona as Paolo Rossi, the Italy striker who until that point had largely failed to justify his selection, finally sprang into life. A hat-trick from him did for Brazil, who were dumped out of the tournament they were supposed to win, and this great generation of Brazilian footballers failed to live up to their potential as world beaters.

View gallery



Italy 1-1 Argentina (aet) (Argentina win 4-3 on penalties), semi-final, 1990

Italy have often left World Cup with big regrets, especially in their recent past: between 1990 and 1998, the Azzurri sustained three successive defeats on penalties - in the semi-finals (1990), the final (1994) and the quarter-finals (1998). It's difficult to imagine a more tortured run for one team, with the agony at its worst in Pasadena in '94, given the title was on the line when Roberto Baggio stepped up to take his kick.

That defeat, however, was somewhat avenged in 2006 when Italy lifted the trophy under the same circumstances against France, so in terms of a replayed game, perhaps the one Italians would most like to see would be the semi-final against Argentina. That defeat was particularly painful because it came on home soil, and with a team that was, on paper, world beating.


Franco Baresi, Giuseppe Bergomi, Paolo Maldini at the back, Giuseppe Giannini and Roberto Donadoni in midfield and Gianluca Vialli and Baggio up front, not to mention, of course, the wildcard Toto Schillaci... the quality of that team, plus that fact that the match was played in Naples, home of Diego Maradona, only made defeat harder to take.

View gallery



England 4-2 West Germany (aet), final, 1966

Over the years the Germans have carved out a reputation for themselves as being a team which dishes out misery on a regular basis at major international tournaments. But they have also suffered a large slice of misfortune: four lost finals (1966, 1982, 1986 and 2002) and a particularly painful semi-final defeat in 1970 are testament to that. But it is the loss at Wembley in '66 that sticks in the collective memory, given the extraordinary circumstances.


First of all, it was against their old rivals England, in their own back yard no less. How sweet victory would have tasted at a packed house bathed in the London sunshine. And second, the manner of defeat was galling for the Germans thanks to the contentious third goal by Geoff Hurst in extra-time. Conspiracy theories were instantly born centring on the Soviet linesman who ultimately awarded the goal (the USSR had been beaten by the Germans in the semis) and a debate which still rages to this day began. How Germany would love to replay the match without Tofik Bakhramov running the line (and probably with Hurst missing from England's line-up).

View gallery



Germany 1-0 Argentina, final, 1990

Argentines are probably not alone in wanting to see this match replayed - it was one of the worst, most cynical finals ever, the South Americans ending the game with nine men and just a single penalty, a dubious one at that, settling the contest. Carlos Bilardo's side, who started the tournament as defending champions, lost their opener against Cameroon but soon started a resurrection of sorts, managing to scrape through the group stage before beating Brazil, Yugoslavia and Italy to reach the final.


But once there they won few new fans with a dour display which prompted suggestions they were playing for penalties from the start. And don't forget, while Argentina entered the final with four players suspended, this nevertheless was a side containing Diego Maradona. The Rome finale proved to be a sorry slice of history that Argentina - and many others - would rather forget.

View gallery



West Germany v Holland, final, 1974

But if Argentina (two finals lost) and the Germans (four) count themselves unfortunate, spare a thought for the Netherlands, who have lost three finals without the consolation of having ever won one, unlike the two aforementioned nations. Three times (in 1974, 1978 and 2010) the Dutch have fallen at the final hurdle but the toughest defeat to accept was probably in '74, given the quality that vintage boasted.


In Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Rob Rensenbrink, Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol and Wim Suurbier, Holland had a one of the finest teams of all time, which only makes their 2-1 defeat to West Germany an even more bitter pill to swallow. The German side, with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Wolfgang Overath, Gerd Mueller, Sepp Maier and Paul Breitner, wasn't too shabby itself, but the Dutch will always wonder what might have been in their nation's football history had they won this one.

View gallery


View comments (8)