The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been officially consigned to the history books, and there was a familiar name lifting the famous gold trophy. Lionel Messi etched his name – if it wasn’t already – into greatness.
He was awarded the Golden Ball award in Qatar this winter courtesy of seven goals and three assists in seven games. But that is simply a bonus, as the most important thing for Messi and Argentina was lifting the World Cup for the first time since the days of Diego Maradona. And that is exactly what they did.
Heading into the tournament, OddsChecker, which provides football odds and offers, had made La Albiceleste the second favorite for glory in the desert this winter. And they didn’t disappoint. In the Lusail Iconic Stadium showpiece on December 18th, they prevailed against reigning champions France – who was aiming to become the first nation since Brazil some 60 years ago to successfully retain the trophy – in a riveting final.
Messi gave Argentina an early lead from the penalty spot before Juventus winger Ángel Di María added a second ten minutes before the half-time interval. The French looked dead and buried throughout the second half, but in 97 seconds of madness, they were somehow level. In the 80th minute, Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappé pulled one back for Les Bleus, before he equalized with a stunning volley barely a minute and a half later.
With the scores level at two apiece, the game headed into extra time. In the additional period, Argentina would once again take the lead through Messi, before Mbappé once again equalized. He completed his hat trick with a thumping penalty just three minutes remaining in extra time, which forced the tie to a penalty shootout.
In the end, it was Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez who would be the hero. The Aston Villa shot-stopper saved from Kingsley Coman, before forcing Aurélien Tchouaméni to shoot wide. That gave defender Gonzalo Montiel the chance to seal the victory, and the Sevilla man didn’t disappoint. He cooly slotted home, sparking scenes of jubilation from Doha to Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s success was as nail-biting as it comes, and they cemented their legacy as one of the most successful teams in the history of the tournament. But who else is on football’s Mount Rushmore with them?
Brazil headed to Qatar as the favorites for glory, however, the Seleção were dumped out at the quarter-final stage by Croatia. They remain, though, the most successful nation in the history of the World Cup, winning five tournaments. Their most recent success came back at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
They have also been the most consistent team in the tournament, reaching at least the quarterfinals in every World Cup since 1994. Brazilian players have also been some of the best to have ever played in the tournament, with Ronaldo, Romario, and Rivaldo all winning the World Cup Golden Ball award.
Germany is the second most successful nation in World Cup history. They have lifted the famous gold trophy on four separate occasions. They have also reached the semi-finals 12 times. In the five tournaments which took place between 1974 and 1990, Germany incredibly reached the final on four occasions, winning two of them.
Their most recent success came in Brazil in 2014. That year, they thumped the hosts 7-1 in the semifinals – including scoring five unanswered goals in the first half an hour – to set up a date with Argentina in the final. In a cagey affair that finished goalless after 90 minutes, attacking midfielder Mario Götze eventually got the winner in the 116th minute.
Die Mannschaft has provided some of the finest players in the history of the World Cup, with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller being some of the best players to have ever graced the tournament. Muller was the top scorer at the 1970 World Cup, scoring 10 goals in West Germany’s victorious campaign.
The top goalscorer in the history of the tournament is an honor claimed by German striker Miroslav Klose. The former Werder Bremen man has scored 16 goals across four tournaments.
Italy has also won four World Cups. They have also reached been beaten finalists on two occasions – in 1970 and 1994 – and have reached at least the semifinals on an additional two occasions.
They, too, have had some of the best players to ever play in the tournament, with Paolo Rossi and Roberto Baggio being two of the most famous Italian players to have won the World Cup. Rossi was the top goalscorer at the 1982 World Cup, scoring six goals in Italy’s victorious campaign.
Italy’s most recent success came back in 2006. They took full advantage of Zinedine Zidane’s moment of madness in Berlin to defeat France on penalties and lift the trophy for the fourth time.
Unbelievably, however, Italy hasn’t even qualified for the two most recent World Cups, twice losing out in the lottery of the playoffs. Four years ago, they lost over two legs against Sweden. In qualifying for Qatar 2022, they were stunned by North Macedonia, who netted a 90th-minute winner to ensure the Azzurri missed out once again.
Argentina is the fourth most successful nation in World Cup history, having won three titles, as well as finishing as runners-up twice. Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona are arguably the best players to have ever played in the World Cup, with the latter’s performances at the 1986 World Cup and the former’s performances in 2022 being legendary.
In the 1990 World Cup, Maradona was again a crucial part of the Argentine team, helping them reach the final. In 2022 Messi was named the Player of the Tournament for a second time, becoming the only player to achieve the feat twice.
These four nations have been the most successful in the history of the World Cup, having won a combined total of 16 titles between them. Each nation has had its own great players, who have gone on to become legends and have been instrumental in their nation’s success