Top 10 greatest World Cup games

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England winning the World Cup against West Germany in 1966 and Germany’s thrashing of Brazil in 2014 – big games are what makes the World Cup so special. But which one was the best?

Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards discussed the topic in the latest Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast.

You can listen to the podcast on BBC Sounds and have your say by ranking your choices at the bottom of this page.

10. England 3-2 Cameroon 1990 (Richards: 10, Shearer: 5)

Gary Lineker rescued England from a shock defeat against Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup. Cameroon were 2-1 up before Lineker scored a penalty in the 83rd minute and another one in extra time as they became the first English team to reach a World Cup semi-final on foreign soil.

Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker scored two penalties against Cameroon to fire England to the semi-finals

Lineker: It was a cracking game. It was a tough game and they were such a good side. They played some great stuff and we could easily have lost.

9. England 4-2 West Germany 1966 (Richards: 9, Shearer: 1)

Sir Alf Ramsey’s England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time to win the World Cup for the only time in their history. Germany took the game to extra time with a last-minute equaliser but England emerged victorious against their rivals at Wembley. Sir Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick in the final and is still the only player to do so. England’s men have failed to win a major tournament since.

England 4-2 West Germany
England triumphed against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final

Shearer: For any English person it has to be the greatest game.

Lineker: There were only 11 players involved. It was that surprising for Jimmy Greaves to be left out. It was a great game with a last-minute equaliser, and the ‘was it over the line’ goal? Then there was that famous commentary from Kenneth Wolstenholme.

8. England 2-2 Argentina 1998 (Argentina won 4-3 on penalties) (Richards: 8, Shearer: 6)

Sol Campbell scores but then sees his goal disallowed
Sol Campbell’s header was disallowed for England who played well over an hour with 10 men after David Beckham’s red card

Shearer: It was a very good game. I scored two penalties in that game and with the second it was a mental thing.

Lineker: It was a remarkable game because of the goal that Sol Campbell scored that wasn’t given.

7. France 4-3 Argentina 2018 (Richards: 7, Shearer: 4)

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe scored twice for France

6. Uruguay 1-1 Ghana 2010 (Uruguay won 4-2 on penalties) (Richards: 6, Shearer: 10)

Luis Suarez was at the heart of the 2010 World Cup quarter-final between Uruguay and Ghana, the first time the two sides had met in a senior competitive football match. The striker was sent off for Uruguay after handling the ball to deny Ghana a winner in extra time. Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty and Ghana then lost 4-2 on penalties as Uruguay reached the semi-final stage for the first time since 1970.

Uruguay players celebrate
A handball by Uruguay’s Luis Suarez proved one of the most controversial and memorable moments of the 2010 tournament

Richards: The score wasn’t great but it was entertaining. It was chaos.

Shearer: This will always be remembered for Luis Suarez. The handball, the red card and then he was in the tunnel celebrating.

5. Italy 4-3 West Germany 1970 (Richards: 5, Shearer: 7)

Italy were 1-0 up against West Germany from the eighth minute of the 1970 World Cup semi-final but German defender Karl-Heinz Schnellinger equalised in the 90th minute to take the game to extra time. Gerd Muller scored twice in the additional period but it was in vain as Italy went on to win 4-3 and reach the final where they fell to defeat at the hands of Brazil.

Italy 4-3 West Germany
Italy were 4-3 winners against West Germany in the ‘Game of the Century’

Lineker: It was a crazy semi-final. The two Italian forwards were beautiful footballers. It was an amazing end-to-end game.

4. West Germany 3-3 France 1982 (West Germany won 5-4 on penalties) (Richards: 4, Shearer: 8)

Another game involving West Germany and this one ended in victory. Pierre Littbarski opened the scoring for West Germany before France equalised. Les Blues raced into a 3-1 lead in extra time but the match finished 3-3. West Germany won 5-4 on penalties with Horst Hrubesch scoring the decisive kick. West Germany progressed to the final, where they lost to Italy.

West Germany 3-3 France
West Germany beat France 5-4 on penalties during a thrilling World cup semi-final in 1982

Lineker: One of the key moments and why everyone remembers this game is the challenge by Harald Schumacher, the German goalkeeper, on Patrick Battiston. It was unbelievable. The referee didn’t even give a foul and it was a straight red. I think he broke loads of teeth but Schumacher stayed on the pitch somehow and Germany won the shootout with him in goal.

Shearer: It was horrific. He just obliterated him.

3. Brazil 4-1 Italy 1970 (Richards: 3, Shearer: 2)

The 1970 World Cup final was the first between two former champions. It was a comprehensive 4-1 victory for Brazil as they lifted the World Cup for the third time in their history. Carlos Alberto scored Brazil’s fourth goal, which is considered as one of the greatest ever scored in the tournament’s history.

Brazil 4-1 Italy
Pele scored one of four goals for Brazil as they beat Italy to win the 1970 World Cup

Lineker: There were some amazing players in that Brazil team.

2. Italy 3-2 Brazil 1982 (Richards: 2, Shearer: 9)

An instant classic, Italy beat Brazil 3-2 in the 1982 World Cup to eliminate them from the tournament at the second group stage. Paolo Rossi scored a hat-trick for Italy, having recently returned from a match-fixing ban, as they advanced to the semi-final stage. The Italians went on to win the tournament.

Paolo Rossi
Paolo Rossi’s hat-trick was vital on Italy’s road to 1982 World Cup glory

Shearer: This was one of the World Cups I can remember with Rossi scoring those goals.

Lineker: This was a spectacular game of football. Italy were getting a lot of stick at home because of the Rossi thing. Most of the world were a bit gutted that Brazil lost because they were so magical to watch.

1. Brazil 1-7 Germany 2014 (Richards: 1, Shearer: 3)

Brazil were humiliated on home turf in the 2014 World Cup semi-final by eventual winners Germany in Belo Horizonte. Their star man Neymar was ruled out for the rest of the tournament after suffering a broken bone in his back and captain Thiago Silva was also missing. Even so, nobody would have predicted that Germany would be 5-0 up after 29 minutes. The result was Brazil’s first competitive home defeat in 39 years and biggest World Cup loss.

Brazil 1-7 Germany
Miroslav Klose broke the World Cup scoring record as Germany left Brazil devastated in 2014

Richards: You don’t expect that with eight goals in a game.

Shearer: We couldn’t believe what was happening. It was staggering for Germany to rattle off the goals like they did.

Lineker: It was stunning. It was like the whole of Brazil was in mourning at the end of the game.

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