Some tear off around the pitch, shirtless and arms thrown into the air in uninhibited elation. Others stand still in stunned silence not able to fathom the feeling of having won, or just how they let the ultimate prize slip from a such a touchable distance. For others, tears stream freely down their faces – both tears of joy or inconsolable tears of desolation. The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious sporting event in the world and winning the finals or losing yields emotions that are so similar yet so different.
Countries With the Most World Cup Wins
Brazil has won the most world cups, with a total of 5. Following Brazil are Germany and Italy, with 4 wins each. Following these are Argentina, Uruguay, and France with 2 wins each. England and Spain have both won once, placing them amongst the top performing teams at the World Cup.
Brazil the host country of the 2014 tournament has churned out the most number of World Cup titles won by country. The Samba nation has won the World Cup a record 5 times after getting to the finals of 7 editions. Brazil took home the Cup in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002. From the dazzling show laid out by Pele in 1958, the swashbuckling teams of the '70s and the emotional win of 1994, Brazil are always favorites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy.
Germany has reached the World Cup finals 8 times, winning 4 in 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014. Most recently, they took the Cup in 2014 after a heart-stopping match against Argentina for a 1-0 win.
The 2018 World Cup finals ended with France beating Croatia 4-2 for their second World Cup win. Their previous World Cup win was in 1998 when they beat Brazil 3-0 to win the Cup.
Countries That Underperform
There are some great teams that left the World Cup with heartbreak despite arriving at tournaments as favorites. Portugal in 1966 were led by the great Eusebio but unfortunately he didn't have many lieutenants to help him carry the trophy home. The Netherlands with the legendary Johann Cruyff, seen as one of the greatest ever players, came close but could not win it despite playing mesmerizing "Total Football". In contrast, there are 134 teams that have never managed to qualify for the World Cup.
FIFA Host Nations
The FIFA World Cup was first hosted by Uruguay in 1930. The inaugural tourney was won by the host nation although it was contested by only 13 teams in 4 groups. The competition was destined to be won by a South American team as they constituted 7 of the competing teams. Travel from other continents in those times was highly complicated. Uruguay repeated the feat in 1950 by beating the hosts, Brazil. Since then, countries around the world have alternated hosting the games every four years. Russia will host the 2018 World Cup, followed by Qatar in 2022, and North America jointly hosting the 2026 World Cup between the US, Canada, and Mexico.
World Cup Rivalries
Traditionally there has always been a rivalry between Europe and South America with nations from these two continents fighting it out for the World Cup title at every final. Germany in 2014 recorded the first European victory on South American soil leveling the scores since Brazil won in Sweden 56 years prior. However, Europe edge out the cumulative wins. A European nation has lifted the trophy 11 times while South Americans have been victorious 9 times. Other European countries to have won are Italy, England, France and Spain.
The 2010 World Cup was a zenith for the mighty Spain team. The team joined the elite band of FIFA World Cup winners during a period of dominance in world soccer. This victory was after having won the 2008 European Championships. The final game was won by a last gasp effort scored by Andres Iniesta. During this tournament, Spain exhibited their special brand of possession football that left opponents chasing ghosts for the entirety of matches. However despite being favorites to retain the trophy in 2014, they dropped out in the group stages. Only Brazil has ever managed to retain the Cup having won consecutively during the Pele inspired years of 1958 and 1962.