World Cup: The top 10 matches

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Story highlights

Brazil 2014 World Cup began on June 12

32 nations take part in tournament, which is held every four years

Spain are the title holders following success in 2010

Brazil has won the World Cup more than any other nation

CNN  — 

The 2014 World Cup has barely begun, but already it’s shaping up to be one of the best ever.

It’s been hugely unpredictable, with not a single draw in 11 games which have produced 32 goals – an average of nearly three a match.

Statistically the side that scores first usually goes on to win in football – in Euro 2012 that happend over 70% of the time – but unusually five teams that have conceded the initial goal have recovered to win their opening group games.

The Netherlands’ 5-1 win over world champions Spain has been Brazil 2014’s biggest shock so far, though Costa Rica’s 3-1 victory over Uruguay was another major surprise.

With the tournament in full swing, CNN looks at 10 of the World Cup’s greatest ever games.

Brazil 2-3 Italy 1982

Billed as a battle between Brazil’s irrepressible attack and Italy’s miserly defense, this contest provided one of the most thrilling encounters in World Cup history.

Brazil, boasting the talent of Zico, Socrates and Falcao, was expected to bring home the trophy following a third place finish four years earlier.

Three World Cups victories between 1958 and 1970 had been the reward for Brazil’s wonderfully entertaining and fluid style which had brought a whole new dimension to the game.

Against Italy, which had begun the tournament slowly, Brazil was faced with a side which had gained a confidence boosting win over Argentina to qualify for the second group stage.

And in Paolo Rossi, who had returned to the side following his involvement in a match-fixing scandal, Italy had a hero ready to emerge.

It was Rossi who gave his side a fifth minute lead, heading home Antonio Cabrini’s cross.

The lead did not last long – Socrates rounding off a one-two with Zico before firing home past Dino Zoff in the Italian goal.

But just as Brazil appeared set to take the game away from its opponents, Rossi punished a poor defensive mistake to restore Italy’s advantage before the break.

Rossi should have finished the tie off midway through the second half but fired wide of the target – a mistake which was punished almost immediately.

Falcao, a constant menace, unleashed a fierce drive which left Zoff with no chance.

Needing just a draw to progress, Brazil could have adopted a more cautious approach – but that was not in this team’s DNA.

Brazil’s refusal to abandon its principle of attacking football ultimately proved its downfall with 16 minutes remaining.

When Brazil failed to clear Bruno Conti’s corner, Marco Tardelli’s effort from the edge of the penalty area fell into the path of Rossi, who fired the ball home to claim his hat-trick.

Italy would go on to win the World Cup, defeating West Germany in the final with Rossi again on the scoresheet.

For Brazil, it was the day that its beautiful naivety was finally exposed – a watershed moment in World Cup history.

West Germany 3-2 Hungary 1954

It is known as the “Miracle of Bern.”

Hungary, a team which had revolutionized football and become the most feared on the planet, was supposed to cruise to World Cup glory.

Having progressed to the final following victories over Brazil and Uruguay, the reigning champion, Hungary was expected to brush aside a Germany side still getting to grips with the aftermath of World War II.

The two teams had already met in the group phase with Hungary triumphing 8-3 with the great Ferenc Puskas leading the side.

Hungary, unbeaten since 1950, boasted talents such as Nandor Hidegkuti and Zsoltan Czibor to assist the lethal Puskas.

Germany’s presence in the final was far more a surprise given it had only played its first post-war game four years earlier.

Victories over Turkey, Yugoslavia and Austria helped it qualify for the final, which started in disastrous fashion.

Within the opening eight minutes, the Germans had already conceded twice with Puskas and Czibor making the early breakthrough.

The contest appeared done and dusted – Hungary, unbeaten in four years, looked set to claim its very first World Cup title.

But Germany hit back. First, Max Morlock pulled a goal back before Helmut Rahn levelled the game at 2-2 in the 18th minute.

The game, played on a quagmire of a pitch, was an end-to-end affair but with six minutes remaining, the unthinkable happened – Germany scored.

Rahn, the man who had drawn his side level, pounced to finish and win the World Cup for Germany.

“It was a kind of liberation for the Germans from all the things that weighed down upon them after the Second World War,” German historian Joachim Fest wrote.

“July 4, 1954 is in certain aspects the founding day of the German Republic.”

Italy 4-3 West Germany 1970

It was dubbed the “Game of the Century” but this seven-goal thriller was dangerously close to fizzling out into a laborious Italian victory.

Italy, who had taken an eighth minute lead through Roberto Boninsegna, looked certain to make the final having reached the 90th minute with its lead still intact.

The German side, which had defeated reigning champions England in the previous round in a grueling contest which went to extra-time, looked tired and forlorn.

Continually denied by the brilliance of Italian goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi, coupled with the referee’s failure to award two penalties, Germany’s frustration began to grow.

But just when it appeared Germany’s hopes had been dashed, left-back Karl-Heinz Schnellinger – who had played his club football in Italy since 1963 - scored a dramatic late equalizer.

That strike ensured the watching world would be treated to one of the most exciting periods of extra-time in tournament history.

What followed was a thrilling end-to-end affair with Germany striking first through Gerd Muller – the man who had scored a hat-trick in the quarterfinal.

Italy responded through Tarcisio Burgnich’s volley before Gianni Riva made it 3-2 with a stunning finish.

Germany wasn’t finished though and Muller struck again with 10 minutes remaining to draw his side level.

But any thoughts of a German victory were finally extinguished when Gianni Rivera netted a dramatic winner.

Italy went on to play Brazil in the final four days later but proved no match for Pele and co. who cruised to a 4-1 victory to claim the trophy.

West Germany 3-3 France 1982

It remains one of the most iconic moments of World Cup history.

When France midfielder Patrick Battiston ran through on goal, he appeared set to score the goal which would send them into the World Cup final.

With the tie poised at 1-1, Battiston ran towards goal with glory beckoning with just the goalkeeper to beat.

But therein lay the problem. As Battiston forged his path towards goal, Harald ‘Toni’ Schumacher, turned his body and collided with the Frenchman running at full pelt.

Immediately knocked unconscious, Battiston lost two teeth, suffered three cracked ribs and damaged vertebrae. He failed to recover consciousness for 30 minutes.

While Battiston was left injured, the referee failed to award a free-kick nor caution Schumacher.

Instead, it was the goalkeeper, remembered as one of the tournament’s most infamous villains, who helped his side qualify for the final.

Riled by the injustice, France took control of the game, moving into a 3-1 lead in the first half of extra-time.

Marius Trésor, the French sweeper, volleyed home the second before Alain Giresse appeared to have won the tie.

France, led by the talented Michel Platini and the impressive Jean Tigana, continued to fight for every ball with their opponent on the rack.

But with just minutes of the first half of extra time remaining, disaster struck.

France, having lost possession following a suspect looking challenge on Platini, were cut open and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stabbed home.

Six minutes later, the comeback was completed when Klaus Fischer produced an exquisite bicycle kick to level.

Penalty kicks ensued and it was Schumacher who ensured his side progressed to the final – saving from Didier Six and Maxime Bossis.

Informed after the contest that Battiston had lost two teeth, Schumacher commented: “If that’s all that’s wrong, tell him I’ll pay for the crowns.”

Following the tournament, a French newspaper ran a poll for the nation’s least popular person – Schumacher edged out Adolf Hitler to claim the dubious prize.

Netherlands 1-2 West Germany 1974

It was the dream final – the host nation against the team playing one of the most beautiful brands of football ever seen.

The Netherlands, led by the mercurial Johan Cruyff, had qualified for the final following a campaign which had underlined its credentials as world champions.

Playing under the legendary Rinus Michels, Netherlands had already dispatched Argentina and Brazil and was favorite to defeat West Germany.

On July 7 1974, the men in orange kicked off the game – and promptly took the lead within 63 seconds before a single German player had even managed to touch the ball.

Having kept possession so easily, Cruyff moved into the penalty area where he was fouled and Johan Neeskens smashed home the resulting penalty.

Speaking some time after the game, Netherlands midfielder Johnny Rep explained how that goal changed the entire complexion of the contest.

“We wanted to humiliate the Germans. It wasn’t something we’d thought about, but we did it. We started knocking the ball around – and we forgot to score a second.”

The failure to convert dominance into goals soon cost the visiting side as West Germany leveled with a penalty of its own through Paul Breitner.

It was then left to the prolific striker, Gerd Muller, to win the tie two minutes before the interval.

While the orange shirts poured forward in search of an equalizer after the break, the German defense held firm.

In the end, the immovable object prevailed over the irresistible force.

“Going a goal down was good for us,” German capain Franz Beckenbauer said after the game.

“The Dutch eased off and we were able to get into the match. And once you’ve relaxed your grip, it’s hard to recover the initiative.”

Four years later, Netherlands suffered final heartbreak once again, going down 3-1 to host nation Argentina.

Brazil 1-2 Uruguay 1950

If you’re off to Brazil or already there, then heed this advice – don’t mention Alcides Ghiggia.

Some 64 years might have passed since Ghiggia’s strike condemned Brazil to a heartbreaking defeat in the in the final but the scars remain.

“Our catastrophe, our Hiroshima,” wrote novelist Nelson Rodrigues, “was the defeat by Uruguay in 1950.”

Brazil, hosting the tournament for the first time, required just a draw from its final group game in a tournament where there was no ‘final’.

The contest had begun well with winger Friaca giving the host nation a halftime lead.

With victory seemingly assured, Brazilian newspapers hit the street declaring glory, while the medals for the home side were pressed and a victory tune composed.

While nobody could accuse the authorities of not being organized, nobody managed to relate the news to Uruguay.

Instead, the visitors hit back after the interval through Juan Alberto Schiaffino before Ghiggia netted the winner.

Much of the blame fell on goalkeeper Moacyr Barbosa, who was held responsible for his side’s defeat.

Some 20 years later, a woman in a supermarket pointed towards him and declared to the young boy by her side, “Look at him, son. He is the man that made all of Brazil cry.”

“Under Brazilian law the maximum sentence is 30 years,” Barbosa remarked on his 79th birthday, just two weeks before he passed away in 2000. “But my imprisonment has been for 50 years.”

England 4-2 West Germany 1966

Was it or wasn’t it?

Some 48 years, it’s a question football fans are still asking.

When Geoff Hurst’s effort bounced down on the goalline, the world held its breath.

With the final poised at 2-2 and in extra-time, the decision to allow the goal rested with a linesman from the USSR.

His decision to allow the effort went down in World Cup folklore and allowed England to go on and win the tournament.

Hurst completed his hat-trick late on in extra-time and complete a stunning victory.

In a pulsating contest, England fell behind to a Helmut Haller strike after just 12 minutes before Hurst leveled soon after.

The host nation then appeared to have snatched victory on 78 minutes when Martin Peters rifled home to send the 93,000 crowd into raptures.

But with 15 seconds remaining, the visitors hit back when Wolfgang Weber scored a dramatic equalizer.

With the scores at 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes, it was then that England manager, Alf Ramsey, coined his iconic phrase.

Having watched his players squander their advantage so late in the game, he told them: “You’ve won it once now go out and win it again.”

And that’s exactly what they did – Hurst’s two goals claiming the trophy for the first and so far only time in the nation’s history.

Romania 3-2 Argentina 1994

After losing to West Germany in the final four years earlier, Argentina arrived in the U.S. hoping to reclaim the crown it had won in 1986.

A second round knockout meeting with Romania was expected to be negotiated comfortably enough, despite their opponents boasting the talents of captain Gheorge Hagi.

Without their own maestro, Diego Maradona, who was sent home from the tournament in disgrace for failing a drug test for ephedrine, the Argentina side relied on the striking prowess of Gabriel Batistuta and Abel Balbo.

The likes of Fernando Redondo and Diego Simeone ruled the midfield while Ariel Ortega was the new kid on the block hoping to announce himself on the world stage.

In soaring temperatures at California’s Pasadena Rose Bowl, it was Romania which made the perfect start when Ilie Dumitrescu’s looping free-kick inexplicably sailed over the head of Argentina goalkeeper Luis Islas and into the far corner.

That advantage lasted just five minutes before Batistuta was adjudged to have been fouled inside the penalty area and the forward picked himself up before firing home the spot kick.

If that was the signal for Argentina to go on and dominate then Romania failed to get the message.

Instead, it was Hagi who began to take control and his wonderful pass allowed Dumitrescu to run in front of the Argentina defense and finish exquisitely.

Hagi then extended Romania’s lead 13 minutes after the interval, rounding off a stylish counter-attack by firing an unstoppable effort past Islas.